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Koelsch's fantastic finish rescues Panthers
mathew moeder


Great Bend's Sage Koelsch sized up Emporia's Parker Leeds and stole the Spartans' heart.

Koelsch highlighted a game-ending 11-point stretch with a steal and layup to clinch a 46-38 non-league basketball victory over Emporia. Koelsch scored the go-ahead basket on a driving basket and converted the steal for a 39-36 lead. 

"I took my time and didn't want to miss the steal," Koelsch said. "That gave us momentum the rest of the game." 

Joseph Moeder sparked the Panthers' late-game defense by drawing his second charging foul on Leeds, who had back-to-back turnovers. 

Koelsch converted seven free throws to ice the victory. Koelsch scored a career high 21 points and Stefan Spray chipped in 10 points.

"The free throw line was exactly where I wanted to be," Koelsch said. "I came into the game feeling good and my shot was there." 

Koelsch scored 10 first-half points and played with confidence

"Sage was an absolute warrior and deserves all the credit," said Great Bend coach Kyle Kriegh. "He led our team tonight."

The Panthers (2-4) held Emporia (0-5) to 3 of 14 shooting and forced six turnovers with rugged man-to-man defense after halftime. The Panthers' trio of Sage Koelsch, Braylon Council and Carter Coombs limited standout Leeds to 3 of 10 shooting and created several game-changing turnovers. 

"We did a good job playing team defense," Kriegh said. "We played with heart and manned up lined up right."

The Spartans led 25-18 at halftime. Leeds and Cooper Rech combined for 16 first-half points. 

"We moved past our mistakes," Kriegh said. "The second half, we battled through adversity. Our crowd was hyped. We let our play take care of itself."

The Panthers converted 6 of 17 shots and committed six turnovers. The Panthers closed within 31-29 after three quarters.

"We weren't that worried. We wanted to run our plays better and getting our defense set up right. That's the best basketball we've played all year."

Emporia 16 9 6 7 – 38

Great Bend 10 8 11 17 – 46 

EMPORIA (0-5)–Rech 5-7 2-7 12, Leeds 3-10 0-0 8, Peters 1-7 4-4 6, Stewart 2-5 16-3 6, Ortega 1-4 1-5 3, Cooper 1-3 0-0 2, Rios 0-0 1-2 1, Hess 0-10-0 0, Totals 13-37 9-21 38.

GREAT BEND (2-4)–Koelsch 5-12 11-12 21, Stefan Spray 1-4 8-9 10, Coombs 1-6 2-2 5, Council 1-5 2-4 4, Joseph Moeder 1-2 0-0 2, Mathew Moeder 1-2 0-0 2, Hernandez 1-2 0-0 2, Stuhlsatz 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 11-34 23-28 46.

3-pointers–E 3-15 (Leeds 2-5, Stewart 1-2, Cooper 0-2, Ortega 0-2, Peters 0-4), GB 1-15 (Coombs 1-5, S. Spray 0-1, Stuhlsatz 0-1, Koelsch 0-4, Council 0-4). Technical fouls–E–Stewart; GB–S. Spray.