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Hays High boys turn back Garden City; HHS girls fall

By Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News

Garden City just hung around and hung around. Every time that it appeared the Hays High boys basketball team would pull away, the Buffaloes would get back in the game.

Hays High's Dalyn Schwarz shoots a fall away jumper on Friday against Garden City.

Until the fourth quarter. Hays High, ranked third in the state in Class 5A, went on a 16-4 run to start the period. No Buffs comeback this time, as the Indians won 70-53 in Western Athletic Conference action at the Hays High gym.

“We felt like during the fourth quarter we probably had the best offensive execution we’ve had all year,” HHS coach Alex Hutchins said. “I felt like our guys were really sharp and running our stuff, really looked at every option that was there.”

Junior forward Jace Linenberger scored seven of his game-high 17 points during that span. The 6-foot-6 Linenberger and senior big man Dalyn Schwarz, also 6-6, battled Garden City’s burly post players in the paint. Linenberger finished with a double-double, grabbing 12 rebounds, and Schwarz added 14 points.

“They have big bodies to throw at our posts, more than probably anybody else we’ll see,” Hutchins said. “I thought their bigs did a good job of playing physical.”

Linenberger scored eight points in the first quarter as HHS jumped out to lead 19-12. The Indians led 33-24 at halftime, but were never able to expand the lead into double-digits. Garden City got within four points at 37-33 in the third before Hays High took a 44-35 lead entering the final eight minutes. A bucket by Schwarz to start the fourth gave the Indians their double-digit advantage, and the dam burst.

Hays High (8-0, 4-0) placed four players in double figures. In addition to 17 from Linenberger and 14 from Schwarz, Carson Kieffer scored 11 and Jason Krannawitter added 10. Garden City (1-3, 1-2), which has played a limited schedule due to the coronavirus, got 10 points from Chris Grant.

Garden City girls 56, Hays High 42

The Hays High girls took advantage of a good second quarter to take a halftime lead over Garden City.

“I was really excited at halftime,” Hays High coach Len Melvin said. “We really haven’t proven ourselves as a second-half team yet. That’s always a concern until we do it consistently.”

The Buffs slapped on a press in the second half, which led to turnovers, which led to points.

“We didn’t respond to their pressure very well,” Melvin said. “They went to their press. We just didn’t play with our head up, threw the ball away. They made a little run there, cost us.”

HHS trailed 13-9 after the first quarter, but held down the visitors in the second period. The Indian scored the first nine points in the quarter before Garden City managed a basket with just over a minute left before the break. Hays High went into the locker room with an 18-15 lead.

“I thought the second quarter, we were really, really good defensively,” Melvin said. “We took advantage of some opportunities on the offensive side.”

Garden City outscored HHS 18-13 in the third quarter to lead 33-31 going into the final period. The visitors went on a 12-2 run to start the quarter before junior Jersey Johnson swished a 3-pointer for the Indians. The Buffs ( 3-1, 3-0) held off the Indians (2-6, 1-3) down the stretch for the WAC win.

Johnson led Hays High with a career-high 14 points.

“We were really happy for Jersey,” Melvin said. “In our heads, this is what we expected out of Jersey. She’s fully capable of scoring.”

Garden City’s Keyhana Turner led all scorers with 20 points. Aileen Becerril added 16 points and Amaya Gallegos scored 10.

The Hays High boys and girls will open play in Colby’s Orange & Black Classic on Thursday.