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Panther girls fight off Mustangs' rally
Makenzie Premer HGS_22521.jpg
Lady Panther Makenzie Premer dribbles past Salina Central's Saniya Triplett and shoots layup during the Sub-State match-up on Wednesday night. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez


Great Bend's girls built a comfortable lead 35-18 over Salina Central when Emilee Hall and Sadie Spray combined for a perfect high/low score.

When Mustang Kendyl Gary drilled a 30-foot 3-pointer to end the third quarter, no one expected that Gary would hold Central's fate in her hands eight minutes later.

Panther defensive specialist Makenzie Premer preserved the Panthers' wild 46-42 substate basketball with a steal off Gary's desperation pass at midcourt. Premer sank a free throw for the game's final point in a pressure-packed postseason test.

The Panther girls (15-6) earned their first postseason victory in 10 years. They'll travel to Emporia (20-1) Saturday in a quest for their first state basketball trip since 2014.

Spray scored 19 points and Hall added 13 points and timely assists.

"It feels awesome to get a big win for our basketball program," said Great Bend coach Cindy Beck. "I'm proud of my team. Sadie is a ballplayer. She took control at times."

The Panthers' defense survived Central's 7 of 26 shooting from 3-point range. After Gary's 3-pointer, Central's Elle Denning bombed home back-to-back 3-pointers to slice the Panthers' 17-point lead to 35-27. 

"We knew Central would shoot 3s, and we contested them for the most part," Beck said. " It's the way Central plays. We gave them a couple of open looks, but they made them."

Great Bend regained control when Premer fed Hall for a basket and Hall passed to Spray for a basket and a 3-point play for a 42-29 lead with five minutes left. The Panthers' perfect high post offense delivered three assists from Hall to Spray and one from Premer to Hall.

"Emilee and Sadie beat their trap and attacked their defense," Beck said. "Once we beat their pressure, we took advantage."

The Panthers' final five minutes was an offensive nightmare with seven turnovers in their final 10 possessions. The Panthers converted four free throws, and attempted one field goal in the final five minutes.

Premer defended Mustang point guard Saniya Triplett, holding her to eight points. Central's Callan Hall, Denning and Azby Peckham all scored eight points.

"I stopped her drive and stayed on her so she couldn't get quick 3s off," Premer said. "I enjoy that defensive job. I strive to shut them down and not let them score."

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Lady Panther Makenzie Premer shoots a free throw basket against Salina Central. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez

Salina Central 7 8 6 21  — 42

Great Bend 15 10 10 11 — 46

SALINA CENTRAL (10-11)—Hall 1-3 5-6 8, Triplett 3-6 1-2 8, Denning 3-8 0-0 8, Peckham 1-6 5-6 8, Gary 1-1 0-0 3, Owen2-3 0-0 4, Vidricksen 1-10 0-0 3, Waltman 0-4 0-0 0, Ostmeyer 0-2 0-2 0, Totals 42.

GREAT BEND (15-6)—Spray 7-13 5-8 19, Hall 6-12 1-2 13, Ringo 3-4 0-0 6, Thexton 1-3 0-0 3, Nicholson 0-1 0-0 0 McCauley 1-5 0-0 2, Reimer 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 46.

3-pointers—SC 7-26 (Denning 2-5, Gary 1-1, Hall 1-2, Peckham 1-3, Triplett 1-3, Vidricksen 1-8, Ostmeyer 0-1, Waltman 0-3); GB 1-7 (Thexton 1-2, Hall 0-1, Premer 0-1, Spray 0-1, McCauley 0-2)


ANDOVER—3-2—Andover 21-0 vs. Hutchinson 13-8; Andover 52, Goddard Eisenhower 32; Hutchinson 41, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 37

MAIZE—3-2—Maize South 20-1 vs. Valley Center 14-7; Maize South 52, Arkansas City 29; Valley Center 51, Salina South 33 

EMPORIA—3-2—Emporia 20-1 vs. Great Bend 15-6; Emporia 65, Topeka West 35; Great Bend 46, Salina Central 42

WICHITA—3-2—Wichita Carroll 18-3 vs. Hays High 16-5; Wichita Carroll 49, Andover Central 41; Hays 53, Goddard 45 (OT)