Hays High sweeps Great Bend
GREAT BEND — It took the Hays High girls just a little over three minutes to storm out to a double-digit lead on Tuesday night at Great Bend.
From there, the Indians were consistent enough to prevent the Panthers from mounting a big run, leading from start to finish to take a 48-34 rivalry win.
After putting Great Bend in a 10-0 hole, the Indians saw the Panthers get as close as three in the second quarter, but Hays worked the lead back to 10 by halftime and maintained a double-digit cushion for the entire second half.
“We talked a lot this year about this game being a game of ups and downs with runs from both teams,” Hays High coach Len Melvin said. “It’s how you respond. Our girls responded to that run they made there in the first quarter. We got it up to 10 and we just kind of hung on to that. I was really proud of their effort tonight.”
It was a significant step forward for a program looking to make steady strides. The Indians moved to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in Western Athletic Conference play.
Re Green started the opening 10-0 run with a 3-pointer, followed by four straight points from Aleyia Ruder and a 3 from Maia Lummus to cap the run.
A quick spurt to open the second half was just as crucial for the Indians, who scored the first six points after halftime to build a 16-point lead. The Panthers never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
“That was pivotal,” Melvin said. “We’ve talked about it several times this year that the first three minutes of the second half are so important.
“We put a little pressure on them, and they couldn’t do some of the things they wanted to do because of that.”
Ruder led Hays High with 13 while Carly Lang added 12 and helped direct the offense at point guard. Green pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with seven points.
It was the second-highest point total of the season for the Indians, behind their 56-32 win over Hoisington on Dec. 15.
“They’re learning,” Melvin said. “We still made a lot of silly mistakes, but you saw that we’re starting to be more aggressive with the ball offensively and we’re starting to put pressure on defenses now. Shots will fall some nights and they won’t some nights. We’ve been on the end of them not falling plenty, so it was nice to see some balls go in the bucket and for us to play with some aggression on the offensive side.
“From Day 1 we said, ‘We’ll never yell at you for missing shots.’ They shot with confidence.”
Hays High went 18 of 42 from the field while holding the Panthers to 12 of 46.
While Melvin said he’s more concerned about seeing signs of progress than wins and losses, he acknowledged that Tuesday’s win was good for morale.
“It’s not a win-or-lose situation yet, but you really need the girls to start seeing some success,” Melvin said. “It was important tonight to win, but we’re still watching for those little things. Are we getting better doing the little things right? I think the answer’s yes.
“We’re getting buy-in. The gym’s getting excited. The girls are starting to believe in what we’re doing, I think. Hopefully it continues to transition into some good things.”
Great Bend (3-4, 0-2 WAC) was led by Sydney Unruh’s nine points.
Hays High has a tough task ahead on Friday night, welcoming in Garden City, which snapped Liberal’s 61-game regular-season winning streak with a 42-38 victory on Tuesday.
Hays High boys 51, Great Bend 24
Hays High boys basketball coach Alex Hutchins was mildly concerned his undefeated team might be inclined to take Great Bend lightly heading into Tuesday’s game.
But the No. 3-ranked Indians put their coach’s mind at ease right away, dominating from the get-go.
“We were a little concerned coming in because this was such a different game than it was a year ago,” Hutchins said. “A year ago we were playing a senior-laden team, we were playing a state-ranked team, the gym was juiced.
“As a coach, we were a little apprehensive that our guys might take it lightly or coast into this one and not be locked in. So that was a big talking point before hand, making sure that we were not taking anything for granted and not resting on our laurels, and being tuned into detail. I thought our guys did a good job of that tonight."
Hays High (7-0, 3-0 WAC) put on a defensive clinic, holding the Panthers to 8 of 38 from the field.
“I thought we did a better job of pressuring the ball,” Hutchins said. “I thought our guards did a better job of heating up the ballhandler a little bit and making them a little more uncomfortable and making it a little bit more difficult for them to see the passes in their sets and carve us up with the pass.”
Hays led 16-3 at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 26-3 as the Panthers missed 17 of their first 18 shots.
It was a typical balanced scoring attack for Hays. Junior post player Jace Linenberger led the Indians with 14 points while T.J. Nunnery scored 10, including a fastbreak dunk late in the first half.
“I think our guys do a good job of playing unselfish basketball and sharing the ball,” Hutchins said. “For the most part, I don’t think you could accuse us of not playing the right way, regardless of what the score is.
“I think our guys approach the game with a good mindset and play the correct way and honor the game and honor each other.”
Great Bend, which played without 6-foot-5 center Cal Dunekack and guard Cole Streck, dropped to 3-4 on the season and 1-1 in the WAC.
Hays will face Garden City (1-2, 1-1 WAC) on Friday night at Hays High.