A strong defensive effort allowed the Hays High School girls’ basketball team to hang with Olathe East — one of the top teams in Class 6A — for the first quarter and change Thursday afternoon, but the Hawks’ patience on offense and length on defense eventually wore the Indians down in what turned into a 44-20 defeat for HHS in the first round of the Mid America Classic at the McPherson Roundhouse.

While most of the defensive pressure was by design, Hays High coach Kirk Maska joked that a hybrid look might have also troubled the Hawks.

“I thought we did some things defensively, switching between man and zone, that probably caused them a little bit of confusion,” Maska said. “A couple of times, we were running both. Some kids were in man; some kids were in zone.”

Despite scoring just seven points in the first half, the Indians only trailed by 10 at halftime. Part of that was due to the Indians forcing turnovers. A different factor in the low scoring half was Olathe East’s willingness to possess the ball for extended stretches, forcing the HHS defense to work for its stops.

“We knew who their shooters were and kinda guarded them,” Maska said. “Those others girls, like I said, were patient. They weren’t going to shoot it, they were going to wait until one of their shooters got open. Hats off to Olathe East, they do a great job.”

While the Indians found some success forcing the Hawks into giveaways, they struggled to translate it into points. The Hawks’ size on the inside contested any inside looks, while their taller guards used their length to pick off passes or contest Indian jumpers.

“I thought they caused some issues with their length, and they pushed us way out on the floor,” Maska said. “We couldn’t get any offense going.”

Neither side found much fluidity on offense early. After Olathe East junior Cameron Kincaid opened the scoring with a free throw 15 seconds into the game, the next score came from Hays High senior Haley George 2 minutes and 45 seconds later.

The Indians held the 2-1 lead for a couple minutes until Sydney Wilson, a 5-foot-10 Olathe East guard, blocked a HHS 3-pointer, corralled the loose ball and beat the Indians down court for an uncontested layup.

Nicole Dinkel added a free throw for Hays High later in the quarter, but Olathe East led 7-3 after one.

The Hawks defense allowed just one scoring play in the second quarter. The Hawks held Hays High scoreless for the first 5:50 of the second quarter and stretched their lead to 15-3 before junior Talyn Kleweno converted a four-point play.

Again, the Hawks scored the final bucket of the period. Makenna Winemiller scored off a pass from Wilson with 1:10 left in the half, giving Olathe East its 17-7 halftime lead.

With the Indians scheduled to play two more times in as many days, Maska elected to lift the full-court press for the second half with the HHS offense not producing.

“If we would’ve scored some points on the offensive end, we probably would’ve continued it, but with two more games in two days we thought we might try to save some legs,” the coach said.

The Indians cut the gap to seven on a 3-pointer from senior Audra Schmeidler to start the half before freshman Kallie Leiker got on the board a minute later.

Regan Schumacher and her Hawk teammates blew the game open after Leiker’s basket. Schumacher and and Kincaid scored in the post before Wilson scored four points in four seconds. Schumacher capped an 11-0 run with a pair of scores late in the quarter.

Schmeidler’s second 3-pointer of the third quarter broke up a five-plus minute scoreless stretch for the Indians, making it 30-15 with 50 seconds left in the third.

Schumacher added four more points in the final 20 seconds to give Olathe East a 34-15 lead after three. The 6-foot-1 junior scored all of her game-high 10 points in the third.

“They run their stuff well,” Maska said. “They know their length is a huge advantage, as tall as they are.”

Dinkel opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a 3-pointer a little more than a minute into the quarter for the Indians, but another offensive lull followed. After the senior’s basket with 6:48 left in the game, the Indians’ next basket came from Leiker, who buried a mid-range jumper to cap the scoring at 44-20 with 22 seconds left on the clock.

While Schumacher was the only player in double figures, Wilson and Caroline Hoppock each added nine points for the Hawks.

Schmeidler led HHS with six points, while Kleweno, Leiker and Dinkel added four apiece.

Olathe East advanced to a semifinal matchup with Manhattan. Hays High and Andale play in consolation action at 3 p.m. Friday.

The Indians’ coach was generally pleased with his team’s defensive and rebounding efforts against a tall and long Olathe East team. Friday’s opponent, Andale, might not have as much size, but the Indians will still need to find a way to put points more points on the board.

“We’ve been shooting a lot, but we gotta figure out how to make them,” Maska said.

Mid-America Classic

Olathe East 44, Hays High 20

Hays High (4-7) 3 4 8 5 — 20

Olate East (9-1) 7 10 17 10 — 44

HHS — Kleweno 4, George 2, Leiker 4, Schmeidler 6, Dinkel 4.

OE — Gleason 5, Hoppock 9, Wilson 9, Kincaid 6, Schumacher 10, Winemiller 3, Jasnoski 2.