BY JIM MISUNAS
When Great Bend point guard Sage Koelsch departed with early foul trouble, Brayton Council rode to the rescue against the pesky Larned Indians.
Council dished out three nifty assists and converted two baskets to spark the Panthers to a deceptive 52-24 basketball victory over the 3A Larned Indians. Council passed to Cal Dunekack twice for baskets and dished to Cayden Scheuerman for another score for an early 21-11 lead. Koelsch's best assist was a third-ending pass to Dunekack for a 3-pointer and a 45-18 lead.
Larned also delivered last-second theatrics with a 3-pointer by Dillan Smith at the first quarter and a game-ending 3-pointer by Brady Hope.
The Panthers (2-2) used an effective 1-3-1 zone defense proposed by Dunekack at halftime to shut down the Indians with a 17-2 burst to start the second half. The Indians converted one field goal and committed six turnovers in the third quarter.
"Cal suggested a 1-3-1 zone at halftime, and I'm proud of him for that," said Great Bend assistant coach Cody Carlson. "I figured we'd get experience in that zone. That third quarter was good. That was fun basketball."
Great Bend (2-2) has played its first four games without head basketball coach Tim Brooks.
With Council and Koelsch leading the way, the Panthers worked the ball for scores as Stefan Spray muscled for 13 points and Dunekack added 12 points. The Panthers answered with 9 of 22 shooting from 3-point range. Cole Streck and Spray each nailed a trio of 3-pointers. The Panthers made the extra pass for a better shot all night long.
"We played inside/out offense really well, and that will win games," Carlson said. "We executed our offense the way we wanted."
The Indians (2-2) played flat after losing to Hoisington Saturday in the championship of the Keady Basketball Classic.
Larned endured a frustrating night, illustrated by leading scorer Layton Crosby drawing a technical after showing off blood on his arm from contact inside to an official. The stylish Crosby converted four of 14 field goals with excellent shots against aggressive Panther defense inside. Time-after-time, Crosby's shot would spin in-and-out. Crosby was averaging 161/2 points per game.
Crosby scored nine points and Dillan Smith added six points.
The Indians committed 14 turnovers and converted nine of 40 field goals, 23 percent. Larned failed to adjust to the way officials let both teams play through contact.
"We didn't react to the physical style," said Larned coach Jerrod Smith. "Their 1-3-1 zone defense took us out of our game that second half. I was extremely disappointed in our effort, especially our defensive effort. We didn't shoot very well."
The Panthers (2-2) journey to 5A powerhouse Emporia Friday and Larned plays at Pratt-Skyline Saturday night.
Larned 11 5 2 6 – 24
Great Bend 14 17 14 7 – 52
LARNED (2-3)–Crosby 4-14 1-2 9, Smith 2-8 1-4 6, Hope 1-2 1-2 4, Upson 1-2 0-2 3, Haas 1-4 0-0 2, Stelter 0-4 0-0 0, Tucker 0-4 0-0 0, Ibarra 0-1 0-0 0, McNett 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 9-40 3-10 24
GREAT BEND (2-2)–Spray 5-8 0-0 13, Dunekack 5-6 0-0 12, Hall 2-6 1-2 5, Council 2-2 0-0 5, Koelsch 1-5 0-0 2, Scheuerman 1-2 0-0 2, Mathew Moeder 1-1 0-0 2, Joseph Moeder 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 20-41 3-4 52
3-pointers–L 3-11 (Hope 1-1, Upson 1-2, Smith 1-3, McNett 0-1, Stelter 0-1, Haas 0-1, Tucker 0-2), GB 9-22 (Spray 3-5, Streck 3-9, Dunekack 2-3, Council 1-1, Joseph Moeder 0-1, Scheurman 0-1, Koelsch 0-2)