Fort Hays Men’s Basketball Soar Past Central Christian

By Hailey Chapman
Hays Daily News

The Fort Hays State Men’s Basketball team cruised past the Central Christian Tigers in Tuesday night’s contest at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers moved to 3-0 on the season with their latest victory.

The Fort Hays State bench was completely cleared throughout the night, allowing six newcomers to score their first point as Tigers. 

Kaleb Hammeke takes a shot in the paint against Central Christian on Tuesday Night. Hammeke brought the crowd to their feet in the first period with a huge two handed slam dunk that gave the Tigers the burst of energy they needed to seal a 82-40 victory.

Freshman Traejon Davis led the Tigers on the night with 13 points shooting 5-for-6 in field goals and 2-for-2 in 3 point shots. A huge moment for Davis, his first basket scored as a Tiger was from the 3 point line. Davis also added 5 rebounds to the Tiger defense. 

Gilbert Peters shot 4-for-5, scoring 8 for Fort Hays, and tallied one block and one steal

Haggan Hilgendorf scored 3 points for the team while Elijah Nnanabu, Jackson Miller and Devin Walker all contributed two points to the Tiger offense.

Kaleb Hammeke showed up big for the Tigers in the first period with a steal that led to his first dunk of the season that brought Gross Memorial Coliseum to their feet. 4-for-6 on the night, Hammeke shared that a big motivation in the game was playing hard in order to get some of their teammates playing time.

“Coach told us if we could keep our foot on the gas in the second period, we’d be able to get some other guys in and they deserve it, they’re working hard every week, they deserve to be on the floor so we knew if we could keep it up we could get them out there,” Hammeke said.

Head Coach Mark Johnson shared that a big spark for this year’s team comes from freshman guard Quinten Rock, who scored 12 points for the Tigers Tuesday night.

“Offensively I think Quinten was the guy for us in the first half for us and he’s done that for us two of our three games, he’s done a really great job of accepting not starting because really he just gives us that energy off the bench,” Johnson said.

Fort Hays shot 50.8% (32-63) in field goals, 34.6% (9-26) in 3 point shots, and 64.3% (9-14) from the free throw line. The Tigers never gave up the lead and ran away with the game, leading by 53 points with 4:48 remaining in the second period.

“I thought the first half we came out and we played really hard, we guarded the heck out of them, we’re still struggling offensively but hopefully that will continue to get better,” Head Coach Mark Johnson said.

Current MIAA rankings have Fort Hays and Rogers State, both perfect, leading the conference. The Tigers were placed at 6th in preseason coaches and media polls.

The Tigers face Manhattan Christian College Sunday afternoon and then have just two days to prepare for their MIAA opener against Washburn on Thursday. 

“Going into conference play we need to improve on our free throws, we were a good free throw shooting team last year, we’re gonna have to play better offense but if we just keep guarding and keep playing strong defense, it’s gonna give us the opportunities we need,” Johnson said.