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Spray, Hall spark Panthers' win
Mersadie Spray makes a quick pass into the zone.jpg
Great Bend's Mersadie Spray makes a quick pass into Hutchinson's zone.


As usual, Great Bend's Sadie Spray played her typical spectacular game with a 21-point effort that sparked the Panthers past Hutchinson High 44-36 in Friday's non-league basketball showdown.

Spray converted a trio of 3-point plays to ignite a 17-5 scoring run that turned a 23-22 deficit into a dominating 39-28 lead. Spray fed Emilee Hall for a basket. Hall and Makenzie Premer each scored a basket and dished off an assist. Paige Thexton's basket gave the Panthers a 39-28 lead with 4:16 left.

It was a huge victory for Great Bend (7-2), which owns the fifth-best record in the 5A West while dropping Hutchinson to 4-3. The top four Western 5A seeds are guaranteed postseason home sites.

Hall scored 10 points and led the defense with six steals. Premer had three steals as the Panthers' quickness consistently beat the Salthawks to the basketball.

The Panthers smartly cranked up the defensive full-court pressure starting the second half. They forced 17 turnovers, but more importantly forced the Salthawks' out of rhythm. Hutchinson converted 5 of 24 field goals (21%) after halftime. 

Spray and defensive wizard Jilian Reimer shared duties against Hutchinson's Grace Posch, who worked hard for her 14 points. Premer's primary job was slowing down athletic Kaia Smith, who scored 15 points.

"Our defensive effort was outstanding," said Great Bend coach Cindy Beck. "Our defense was defense against 3 (Posch) and 23 (Smith). Every shot was contested."

Hall had three first-quarter steals to set an aggressive tone.

"We forced a lot of early turnovers and picked off passes left-and-right," Beck said. "When we get the turnovers, we can turn them into transition points."

The Panthers' only glitch was a late-game strategy when they stopped attacking the basket with 4:16 left. The Panthers missed a shot, committed three turnovers and saved a fourth turnover with a timeout.

The Salthawks' Smith and Posch hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 39-34 score to give themselves a chance. But Spray (of course) saved the night with a steal, basket and 3-point play for a 42-34 lead. 

Hutchinson 9 10 7 10 — 36

Great Bend 8 12 10 14 — 44

HUTCHINSON (4-3)—Smith 5-13 3-5 15, Posch 5-10 2-3 14, Dawes 3-5 0-0 6, Tomac 0-1 1-2 1, Rodriguez 0-4 0-0 0, Krone 0-2 0-2 0, Craft 0-4 0-0 0, Keeton 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 13-40 6-12 36.

GREAT BEND (7-2)—Spray 6-12 7-8 21, Hall 5-10 0-0 10, Thexton 2-3 1-2 5, Premer 2-6 0-0 4, Ringo 1-3 0-0 2, McCauley 0-1 0-0 0, Reimer 1-2 0-0 2, Bryant 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 17-38 8-10 44.

3-pointers—H 4-10 (Posch 2-3, Smith 2-3, Keeton 0-1, Rodriguez 0-3), GB 2-6 (Spray 2-4, McCauley 0-1, Premer 0-1)