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Panther girls shock the world (and Hutchinson)
Sadie Spray shoots.jpg


EMPORIA – Dale Carnegie would be proud.

Great Bend girls basketball Cindy Beck is a disciple of Carnegie's power of positive thinking. Beck stressed a tiny sliver of sunshine in all eight Panther losses. 

The Panthers believed what Beck was preaching to deliver the biggest basketball upset in recent memory.

Beck's belief paid off when double-digit underdog Great Bend shocked No. 1 seeded Hutchinson 56-53 in Thursday's Emporia Glacier's Edge Basketball Tournament. 

Panther-after-Panther enjoyed season-best nights. The Panthers converted 6 of 9 field goals with one turnover in the fourth quarter.

Sadie Spray scored a career high 20 points and converted five consecutive field goals and two free throws. Emilee Hall gave the Panthers the lead 50-49 with a 3-point play. Makenzie Premer scored the eventual game-winning basket for a 54-51 lead off a clutch pass by Allyson Kaiser. Taryn Warren rescued the Panthers with a physical presence, assists to Spray and Premer and a key steal for a 45-44 lead.

Up, 54-51, Spray blocked a Salthawk shot and converted two free throws for a 56-51 lead. Hutchinson's Harlie Wilson converted a 2-point shot and missed the Salthawks' final 3-point attempt to tie.

"It was a great team effort," Beck said. "All our work, all the things we talk about, paid off. It was awesome to see our girls playing all out and our bench screaming their support. It was an emotional roller-coaster. We have to keep that confidence."

Spray and Hall worked their energy all over the court with ballhandling, aggressive defense, passing and scoring. Hall helped solve Hutchinson's pressure defense. Hall and Premer each scored 11 points. 

"We broke pressure and scored points," Beck said. "Emily Hall is calm and collected and we used Emily to relieve pressure. We found open players and attacked the basket. We knocked down big shots."

The Panthers swung the momentum after Salthawk leading scorer Aliyah Green drew a technical foul with Hutchinson cruising 27-21. Hall scored four points for a 29-25 halftime score. Green went scoreless the rest of the night. Mya Thompson scored 17 points and Wilson added 13 points for Hutchinson (8-2).

"We put four quarters together for the first time all year," Beck said. "We buckled down and focused."

Great Bend (3-8) plays Wichita Southeast in Friday's 6:15 p.m. semifinal. The Panthers lost to Hutchinson 58-43 Jan. 14.

"We had confidence we could play with Hutchinson because it was a 2-point game after three quarters," Beck said.

Great Bend 13 12 14 17 – 56

Hutchinson 18 11 15 9 – 53

GREAT BEND (3-8)—Spray 7-9 3-4 20, Premer 5-12 0-0 11, Hall 3-6 5-8 11, Kaiser 3-5 0-0 7, Warren 3-6 0-2 6, Emma Loomis 0-1 1-3 1, Thexton 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 21-40 9-17 56.

HUTCHINSON (8-2)—Thompson 6-9 5-7 17, Wilson 5-10 2-4 13, Keeler 3-6 1-2 9, Posch 2-7 0-0 6, Aliyah Green 2-5 0-0 5, Jackson 1-5 0-0 3, Moriasi 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 19-44 8-13 53.

3-pointers—GB 5-8 (Spray 3-3, Premer 1-2, Kaiser 1-2, E. Loomis 0-1), H 7-21 (Keeler 2-4, Posch 2-7, A. Green 1-1, Jackson 1-3, Wilson 1-4, Moriasi 0-2)