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Hays boys win in OT; HHS girls net first win

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News

In a battle of state-ranked teams, the Hays High boys needed overtime Tuesday night to slip past Hoisington 64-63 on the Cardinals’ home court.

The Hays High boys, ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, improved to 4-0. Hoisington, fifth in 3A, dropped to 4-1.

After starting out the season 0-3, the HHS girls won their first game of the year, 56-32, over the Cardinals (2-3).

Coach Alex Hutchins said the Hays boys played better defense, keying the win. After trailing 37-31 at halftime, Hays High gave up just 21 points in regulation after the break.

“I kind of challenged the boys at halftime, said we needed to be better guarding the ball,” Hutchins said. “I thought our guys did a pretty good job of responding in the second half.”

Hoisington’s main scorer was 6-foot-7 Drew Nicholson, a 3-point threat who canned three from beyond the arc, netting a game-high 25 points. But Nicholson, who scored 14 in the first half, was held to 11 after the break, including being held scoreless in overtime. Hutchins said the Indians switched from post players guarding Nicholson in the first half to perimeter players drawing the assignment after intermission.

“That was by and large a defensive effort that won us the game,” Hutchins said.

Hays High, trailing 48-41 after three quarters, got a late 3-pointer from senior guard Jason Krannawitter to tie the game at 58-58. Senior guard TJ Nunnery missed the front end of a one-and-one with 7.7 seconds remaining that would have given the Indians the lead, but HHS forced overtime after creating a turnover on the Cardinals’ last possession.

In the extra session, Krannawitter scored to give Hays High the lead, but Hoisington got a bucket to tie it. Hays High had three chances to put the game away at the line in the final 30 seconds. Junior Jace Linenberger made 1-of-2 foul shots for the lead, then Krannawitter also went 1-of-2 at the stripe. Hays High got the rebound after he missed the second free throw and Kranawitter was fouled again. He missed both free throws but Hays again got the rebound and senior Dalyn Schwarz made two foul shots for a four-point lead. Hoisington made a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin. Hays High hit on 11 of 20 foul shots.

“I think we’re going to have to do a better job at the free-throw line,” Hutchins said. “We will focus on that in practice a little bit. At the same time, it’s a mentality, something our guys have to do a better job of, stepping up with confidence and knocking them down.”

Hays High is home Friday against Liberal in Western Athletic Conference action before the holiday break. Hays’ first game in January is at Liberal.

“We’re going to have to be locked in both times,” Hutchins said. “We’d like to win our conference, so we need to take care of every game.”

Hays High added Scott City and Hoisington to the schedule to replace games against Salina South and Abilene, which was on the schedule twice. Hutchins said both schools wanted just one meeting. Salina South had scheduling problems and needed to be replaced.

Junior guard Carson Kieffer led Hays High with 19 points. Krannawitter added 16 points and Schwarz scored 12.

Hays High Girls 56, Hoisington 32

The Hays High girls had three players miss the game due to a violation of team rules, and senior Ginny Ke and junior Ashlynn Flax made the most of their first opportunity to crack the starting lineup.

Ke scored 13 points, including 10 in the first half, and Flax scored all seven of her points before the break to help Hays take a 29-13 lead.

“Ginny Ke really stepped up and had a really nice game, so did Ashlynn Flax,” said first-year HHS coach Len Melvin, who added he approached both players before the game started and challenged them to take advantage of their chance. “I thought they responded really well.”

Hays High swept Hoisington on Tuesday.

Hays also got a double-double from 5-10 junior forward Aleyia Ruder, who scored a game-high 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

“I thought what Aleyia did tonight is what really needs to happen for us,” Melvin said. “She played within herself, stepped outside, hit a few shots. That’s what she likes to do and we think she’s really capable of doing that.”

Keeley Wolf scored 10 for the Cardinals, who swished a free throw to start the game. HHS then went on a 10-0 run and never looked back. Hays led 14-6 after the first quarter and by 16 at the break. They doubled the score after three quarters (44-22) for their first win and also the first career victory for their coach.

“I’m more excited about it for the team,” Melvin said.

HHS is home Friday for its WAC opener against Liberal. Melvin said his team needed a win before the extended holiday break.

“It was pretty essential in my mind,” Melvin said. “With this new moratorium of a longer break, not winning prior to the break would have been hard on us.”