Despite seeing his team put up just 14 points in the first half on Friday night against Dodge City, Hays High girls basketball coach Alex Hutchins wasn’t looking for the Indians to make any changes to their offensive approach.
“We felt like we were attacking hard and not getting a lot of whistles, not a lot being called inside,” Hutchins said. “A lot of our game is based on driving and hitting shots if we can beat somebody, or if they foul us, hitting the free throws. We felt like we weren’t getting many of those opportunities in the first half, and when we did, we missed them.
“Never frustrated with the girls. Never upset with anything. It was more so about just taking advantage of the opportunities when they were there.”
Indeed, Hays High cashed in on those opportunities in the fourth quarter, using a 12-0 run to take control of the game and grind out a 41-37 win over the Red Demons at Hays High.
Dodge City led 15-14 at halftime after the teams combined for just 11 points in the second quarter. The Red Demons led by as much as seven in the third quarter and took a 28-23 lead into the fourth quarter.
Hays (9-4, 2-1 WAC), which went scoreless for a seven-minute stretch in the first half, still managed to stay within striking distance through the scoring droughts.
“We felt like we played a really good first half defensively; the second half was good again,” Hutchins said. “We just needed to get the ball in the basket. Finally kind of made that happen.”
The Indians, which shot 33 percent from field, were still down four with 4:30 left before starting the 12-0 run. Jaycee Dale had a big bucket inside to bring Hays within one with 3:28 left, and Savannah Schneider’s bucket in transition after a Dodge turnover put the Indians in front 15 seconds later.
Brooke Denning hit a contested layup to push the lead to three with 2:13 left and free throws extended the cushion to six with 46 seconds left.
“That’s just attacking and attacking and attacking,” Hutchins said. “Sometimes it’s going to go your way when you attack. Sometimes you’ll get the calls, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it will fall on the right side of the rim, sometimes it won’t. Just really proud of the way the girls were persistent the whole night.”
Dodge cut the deficit to three with 23.8 seconds left but cut couldn’t draw closer.
Savannah Schneider led the Indians with 11 points while Tasiah Nunnery and Denning added seven each as the Indians bounced back from Tuesday’s overtime loss at Salina South.
Kisa Unruh paced the Red Demons (6-8, 2-1 WAC) with 14 points while Camree Johnson added 10.
“The girls did a really good job communicating tonight,” Hutchins said of the Indians’ defensive effort. “We were much happier with how we communicated compared to Tuesday. We felt like we gave them too many second chances, too many offensive boards early in the game, but we felt like we cleaned that up as the game went on.
“This is the dog days (of the season),” Hutchins added. “Style points don’t matter right now. It’s just however you can get (the win).”
The Indians will continue a four-game homestead by hosting Garden City at 6 p.m. Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for last month but was postponed due to weather.