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Panther boys edge Wichita West
1 Sage Koelsch
Great Bend Panther Sage Koelsch


WICHITA — Sage Koelsch scored 19 points with superb ballhandling and Great Bend's shifting zone defenses kept Wichita West under control in a 41-37 victory in Saturday's finale of the Bluestem Classic round robin.

Cole Streck jump started the Panthers with back-to-back 3-pointers to start the game. Koelsch took charge the rest of the way with a 19-point effort and smooth ballhandling against the Pioneers' pressure defense. Cole Streck scored 11 points with a trio of 3-pointers.

Koelsch and Streck combined for 12 third-quarter points for a 31-26 lead. Koelsch sealed the victory with six fourth-quarter free throws.

West's Malachi Rogers scored 12 points and Hezekiah Washington highlighted an 11-point afternoon with a slam dunk off a steal. The Panthers mixed 2-3, 1-3-1 and 3-2 zone defenses to keep the Pioneers guessing.

West pulled within three points four times in the fourth quarter. The Pioneers trailed 38-35 when Rob Basks and Steven Ridpath missed potential tying 3-pointers and Washington missed an inside follow shot.

"We played basketball the way we need to," said Great Bend coach Tim Brooks. "We played zone, rebounded, executed and got good shots. We made free throws. It's a tough effort by our team." 

The Panthers converted four second-half back-door scores against West's aggressive man-to-man defense. Streck scored twice off assists by Sam Hall. Koelsch scored on Joseph Moeder's assist. Stefan Spray dished to Joseph Moeder for an easy inside basket. 

Koelsch controlled the game's tempo and never let the Pioneers dictate the flow of the game.

"Sage's floor game worked a lot against pressure," Brooks said. "He made good reads. We're getting better every day. They're excited. We made West play our style."

The Panthers (4-7) play at Dodge City Jan. 29 for a Western Athletic game.

Wichita West 12 7 7 11 — 37

Great Bend 10 9 12 10 — 41

WICHITA WEST (2-5)—Rogers 2-5 7-8 12, Washington 5-9 1-4 11, McCullough 3-6 2-3 9, Ridpath 1-9 0-0 3, Taylor 1-3 0-0 2, Basks 0-2 0-0 0, 12-34 10-15 Totals

GREAT BEND (4-7)—Koelsch 6-12 6-8 19, Streck 3-6 2-2 11, Joseph Moeder 3-8 2-4 8, Sam Hall 1-2 0-0 2, Spray 0-1 1-2 1, Council 0-2 0-0 0, Mathew Moeder 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 13-32 11-16 41

3-pointers—W 3-14 (Rogers 1-1, McCullough 1-2, Ridpath 1-9, Basks 0-2), GB 4-8 (Streck 3-6, Koelsch 1-1, Spray 0-1)