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Hays High boys start strong in 77-55 win over Hugoton

Rick Peterson Jr.
rpeterson@dailynews.net
Hays High junior Jace Linenbeger scored 21 points in the Indians' 77-55 season-opening win over Hugoton on Thursday at Hays High.

Sure, the Hays High boys would have loved to have sustained the start they enjoyed in Thursday’s opener vs. Hugoton.

But considering just how dominant the Indians were in the first quarter, it was also a pretty hard start to sustain.

The Indians blitzed Hugoton early, roaring out to a 20-2 lead in their first game of the Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shootout.

The Eagles made a late charge to cut the deficit to 11, but HHS finished strong to complete a 77-55 victory at Hays High.

All-in-all, it was an impressive opener for the Indians, who return most of the team that notched 17 wins and reached the 5A final four last year before the rest of the tournament was canceled.

“Really pleased with the way we looked early,” Hays High coach Alex Hutchins said. “Wish we could have sustained it better and held on to it longer, but at the same time, that tends to happen first game of the year. There’s a whole lot of adrenaline and whole lot of energy pent up. There was bound to be a little bit of a letdown. Proud of the way we finished. Those last four minutes we kind of locked back in.”

T.J. Nunnery got the Indians started with a steal and breakway layup in the game’s opening seconds. After a Hugoton bucked tied it at 2, Hays High unleased an 18-0 run, hurting the Eagles both in transition and in the halfcourt.

“I thought we did a great job early of playing sound and smart on defense,” Hays High coach Alex Hutchins said. “We did a good job early on offense against their man (defense).”

The Indians utilized their size advantage in the post, with forwards Jace Linenberger and Dalyn Schwarz combining for 41 points.

Linenbeger had a game-high 21 while Schwarz finished with 20 and grabbed 13 rebounds.

“Dalyn and Jace play well off of each other,” Hutchins said. “There were times tonight when they threw that zone on us where I felt like I couldn’t take either one of them out, just because I do think that they are such forces if we can get it to them on the block, short-corner, high-post area. They do a really good job of getting themselves buckets.”

Carson Kieffer added 14 points for the Indians.

Hugoton used a 15-2 run to cut it 62-51 midway through the fourth quarter but Hays finished on a 15-4 run.

Due to Kansas State High School Activities Association guidelines, no fans are currently permitted for high school activities.

Hays High gave the gym some ambience by placing cardboard cutouts of basketball parents in a section of bleachers, “which was awesome,” Hutchins said.

“I’ll be honest, that really did kind of feel like they were here, in a sense. You can kind of picture them over there and some of the mannerisms that you kind of see.”

Hadan Daharsh paced Hugoton with 15 while Jayce Korf added 12.

The Indians will play Life Prep at 8:15 on Friday.

Hays 77, Hugoton 55

Hugoton;5;14;20;16;—;55

Hays;22;20;18;17;—;77

Hugoton (0-1) — Angell 2 4-6 9, Harper 3 2-3 8, Daharsh 5 2-2 15, Korf 2 11-17 12, Mecklenberg 3 0-2 6, Lewis 0 0-0 0, Riddlesperger 0 0-0 0, Bennett 0 0-0 0, Martin 2 0-0 5, Littell 0 0-0 0, Gaskill 0 0-0 0, Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 15-24 55.

Hays (1-0) — Krannawitter 3 0-0 8, Kieffer 5 0-0 14, Nunnery 3 0-2 6, Linenberger 8 6-5 21, Dale 3 0-0 8, Schwarz 9 2-2 20, Oakley 0-0 0-0 0, Weimer 0-0 0-0 0, Dale 3 0-0 8, Hernandez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31 7-10 77.

3-point goals — Hugoton 5 (Deharsh 3, Angell, Korf, Martin). Hays 10 (Kieffer 4, Krannawitter 3, Dale 2). Total fouls — Hugoton 17, Hays 15. Fouled out — none.