Hays High boys move to sub-state final with 58-38 win vs. Great Bend; Salina South up next
The Hays High boys took control early and then answered every spurt from Great Bend, notching a 58-38 win in Wednesday's Class 5A sub-state semifinal at Hays High.
The top-ranked and unbeaten Indians will play host to Salina South at 3 p.m. Saturday with a spot in the state quarterfinals on the line.
Hays (21-0) bolted out to leads of 11-0 and 17-2 en route to a 27-14 halftime advantage. The Indians didn't completely put the Panthers away until the fourth quarter but were never seriously threatened.
"Felt like we had some lulls offensively where we were kind of complacent, stagnant, just kind of standing around, not really attacking the basket like we'd like to, and that's what opened the door a few times," Hays High coach Alex Hutchins said. "And Great Bend shot the ball well and had a good plan, and credit to them.
"But I thought when the moment came and it was time to really put the hammer down offensively, our guys did a good job of doing that."
The Indians utilized their advantage in the post, with junior Jace Linenberger scoring a game-high 21 points.
Linenberger is averaging 19 points over the last five games. He leads the team with 15.8 points per game on the season.
"I think we had a few games there ... where people were really honed in on stopping Jace and Dalyn (Schwarz), and rightfully so," Hutchins said. "But I think we've learned some things when people do that, some ways to attack it differently and some ways to get Jace and Dalyn some good looks.
"And at the same time, Jace does a really good job of getting opportunities for himself. He runs transition really well and he does a great job of getting offensive rebounds. Just as much of the credit goes to him for working hard and earning the opportunities."
Schwarz added 14 and Carson Kieffer finished with 12 for Hays High, who have won 29 straight games dating back to last season.
Salina South earned their spot in the semis with a 46-33 win over rival Salina Central on Wednesday. South will enter with a 16-4 record, playing one of the toughest schedules among 5A teams.
"They're very athletic. A senior-laden group," Hutchins said. "They kind of took it to us when we played them here last year (65-51 South win). We've learned a lot about ourselves and grown a lot from then, but at the same time, I'm sure they're going to come in with a lot of confidence.
"If there were Vegas odds, I'm guessing they're probably the favorites just based on the schedule that they've played. The fact that they have the record they have, playing the who's who of 6A in (the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League) is very impressive."
Josh Jordan leads the Cougars with 15.1 points per game while Devon Junghans and Colin Schrieber are averaging 12.5 and 10.1 points, respectively.
"They're very, very quick defensively and make it hard to score and they love to get out in transition and spread you out and use that athleticism that they have," Hutchins said. "We're going to have to get tuned up and be ready to go."