Hays High sweeps Pratt
After capturing the Colby Orange and Black Classic title last weekend, the top-ranked and undefeated Hays High boys dominated from the get-go against Pratt on Tuesday at home.
The Indians outscored the Greenbacks 26-3 in the first quarter en route to a 74-29 win, moving to 12-0 on the season.
"I thought our guys did a really good job defensively of being patient and being solid and playing sound within our system," Hays High coach Alex Hutchins said. "Once we got up on the scoreboard a little bit, it put some pressure on Pratt and they forced some things, and it created some easy opportunities for us."
Hays High junior guard Jordan Dale helped fuel the fast start, scoring 10 straight points in a stretch during the first frame. He also tossed an alley-oop to the high-flying T.J. Nunnery, who threw down a two-handed dunk.
“I was thinking about a dunk, I’m not going to lie,” Dale said. “But there was someone in front of me, and I saw T.J. trailing, so I had to throw the lob.”
Dale assumed quarterback duties for the football team last fall and was named Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Hutchins said he thought it took Dale some time to get into the swings of things this basketball season after carrying a heavy load in football.
"I think it took a while to settle in and get his basketball legs under him," Hutchins said. "But I'd say for the last few weeks he's starting to show that he's really getting comfortable again and he's capitalizing on a lot of opportunities and doing the things we know he's capable of, because we've seen it for a long time."
Dale embraces his role off the bench for the Indians.
"I feel like I’m a defensive player," he said. "I’m there for defense most of the time. I’m a role player coming off the bench and they need me to (play that role).”
The Indians led 46-22 at halftime before the lead ballooned to 42 by the end of third. The fourth quarter was played under a running clock.
"Our coach told us before the game we needed to stay focused and locked in, pay attention to details and just do what we do," Dale said.
Jace Linenberger led the Indians with 15 points. Dalyn Schwarz added 14, while Carson Kieffer finished with 11 and Dale 10.
The huge lead gave the Indians the chance to get some reserves their most varsity minutes. Devin Schmidtberger, Nate Brooks, Remy Stull, Chason VanDerWege and Will Cadoret played the entire fourth quarter.
"It was awesome to get them extended minutes," Hutchins said. "We get them a couple minutes here, a couple minutes there. It seems like when that happens they chuck up some silly shot because they're trying to get in the scorebook or something. Tonight they got a full quarter, and I think it was awesome because they got to settle in and just play solid basketball and do things the right way."
Pratt, which dropped to 6-7, was led by Matthew Shanline's 11 points.
Hays High girls 52, Pratt 40
Playing without one of their leaders, the Hays High girls buckled down late against the Greenbacks, closing the game on a 17-5 run after Pratt tied it up in the third quarter.
The Indians were without junior forward Aleyia Ruder, who underwent surgery Tuesday for a torn labrum.
"We suspected that we were going to have some ups and downs, not having Aleyia," Hays High coach Len Melvin said. "Aleyia's a leader and she's a good player. We didn't know how the kids would respond. It was a very strong start and a strong finish."
Sophomore Morgan Engel stepped up in Ruder's absence, scoring a career-high 22 points.
"She's playing in a really difficult position; we're playing her down low and she's not the height of a lot of (the post players)," Melvin said of the 5-foot-6 Engel. "We've played a lot of really big teams. Tonight was a welcome opportunity for her. I know she was excited to actually play against some girls that she wasn't six inches shorter than.
"I've been coaching that girl for a long time, and that's the Morgan Engel I know. She's a competitor."
The Indians (4-8) opened the game on a 14-3 run that started with a 3-pointer from Maia Lummus and ended with a 3 from Re Green. Hays took a 27-18 lead into the break but saw Pratt knot the score at 35 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
However, Hays closed the third frame on a 6-0 run. After a Pratt free throw for the first point of the fourth, the Indians scored seven straight to open up a 12-point lead.
Pratt made just one field goal the rest of the way after the run that tied the game.
"We had a timeout to challenge the kids and they responded remarkably well," Melvin said.
Sophomore Carly Lang joined Engel in double figures with 14.
Melvin said the surgery went well for Ruder, who was selected to the Orange and Black Classic All-Tournament team last week.
"We've been praying for Aleyia," Melvin said. "She's a wonderful person and she's worked her tail off for this team, playing under a lot of pain. She'll be rejoining the team (soon), in a support role obviously, not going to play. But we're excited to have her back next year for sure."
Pratt (3-8) was led by Gabby Gatlin's 13 points while Jaycie Theis added 12.
The Indians will play host to Salina Central on Friday.