After running into two stout teams in the Hays City Shootout, the Hays High boys were looking for Tuesday’s game against Colby to give the Indians a more accurate gauge of their early-season progress.
“Sometimes the Shootout is a hard thing to judge your team by, because of the competition,” Hays High coach Alex Hutchins said. “We didn’t want to make tonight a bigger deal than it was, but we did think tonight was a really big barometer just to kind of get a feel for where we’re at and how we thought about our team going into break.”
It proved to be an encouraging sign for the Indians, who broke away from the Eagles in the second half to head into the holiday break with a 58-41 victory at HHS gym.
Hays led by 10 at halftime before outscoring Colby 19-8 in the third quarter and remaining in control in the fourth. The Indians moved to 2-2 after bouncing back from losses to Olathe West and Lawrence Free State in the Shootout.
“It was really what we were hoping to see going into Christmas break,” Hutchins said. “The thing that was most encouraging that we saw from our guys was that they took our scouting report to heart. They played intelligent basketball.”
The Indians got off to a cold start from the perimeter but relied on junior forward Dalyn Schwarz to help solve the Eagles' zone.
“We definitely did a better job tonight (going inside),” Schwarz said. “We didn’t shoot great, so we had to go inside and work inside out, which seemed to work pretty well.”
Schwarz scored a game-high 19 points to pave the way for the Indians.
“Dalyn was awesome,” Hutchins said. “We knew that they were probably going to pack it in with the 3-2 zone and force us to shoot outside, and that worked for the most part early. We took probably a few too many from the outside early and didn’t hit them. But any time someone goes zone, we’re going to look at Dalyn a lot and try to get him the ball at the middle of it at the free-throw line. He’s really comfortable there and he does a really good job of making plays for not only himself but also for his teammates.”
Schwarz scored 11 points in the second frame, hitting one of the Indians' two 3-pointers on the night.
“I try to get more inside, that’s more my game, but if I get an open shot from outside, I’m probably going to take it,” Schwarz said.
Sophomore Carson Kieffer joined Schwarz in double figures with 10 points for the Indians.
“It was fun to see him kind of slow down with the ball,” Hutchins said of Kieffer. “It seemed like when he got the ball in the Shootout he was trying to make things happen a little too fast, whether it was a shot or a drive. He was maybe pressing, or just being a sophomore. It was fun to see him settle in and make plays. Carson is an incredible passer when he slows down and reads the defense and sees what’s there. He did that tonight, and that’s big for us.”
Colby (4-1) was led by Calvin Stapp’s 10 points.
The Indians won’t return to action until Jan. 7 when they travel to Pratt.
“I think tonight makes us feel pretty good,” Hutchins said. “We tried to keep things pretty focused and narrow as far as what we’ve done so far in the season. We wanted to pick a few staples and focus on them and get really good at them. Hopefully, over break, we continue to fine tune those things but also add a few tools to the bag, just so we can be a little more versatile in the future.”
COLBY GIRLS 47, HAYS HIGH 31
Slowed by turnovers, Hays High girls never found an offensive rhythm against Colby’s zone.
The Indians trailed by 11 at halftime and couldn’t generate a big enough run in the second half to get back within striking distance.
“Offensively we just didn’t play well together,” Hays High coach Kyle Porter said. “We were confused a little bit. They were in a zone and we were running our man stuff.
“I just felt like we didn’t play well on the floor together. We didn’t share the ball well. It’s a tribute to Colby’s defense and what they did. They did a really good job running their matchup zone tonight.”
Hallie Vaughn led Colby with 15 points while Jill Stephens added 13 and Brooklyn Jones had 10.
After missing the Hays City shootout with an injury, sophomore Aleyia Ruder was a bright spot for Hays, leading the Indians with 13 points off the bench.
“It was good to see her get her feet wet,” Porter said. “If anybody has an excuse not to be in shape, it’s her because of the time she’s been out with her injury. But she did some really nice things and helped get some boards and got some easy baskets.”
Brooke Denning added 12 points for Hays High, which dropped to 1-3 on the season.
“For us, we have to compete at a high level each possession, we’ve got to get past mistakes and we’ve got to learn how to play together as a basketball team,” Porter said.