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Panthers flex muscle against Indians
Ben Nicholson HGS_08741.jpg
Great Bend basketball player Ben Nicholson shoots from the paint. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez

BY JIM MISUNAS

jmisunas@gbtribune.com

Great Bend’s boys didn’t win the Western Athletic basketball title.

But the Panthers proved they could whip the WAC champions by beating the Hays High Indians 67-54 Friday before a raucous home crowd.

Great Bend (15-5, 6-2 WAC) clinches a home 5A basketball substate against Wichita Carroll (7-13) next week. Hutchinson (14-6) plays Goddard Eisenhower (8-12) in the second substate game. The Panthers last qualified for the 5A state tournament in 2011. Gardner-Edgerton beat the Panthers 60-47.

Brilliant play by Panther Carter Coombs jump started the victory with a vintage 9-point first quarter that led to a 16-4 edge after one period. Coombs dished out his usual compliment of nifty assists. Hays made one shot off 12 offensive possessions.

The Panthers matched the Indians’ trick of four players in double figures at Hays with Maddox Spray (15), Ian Premer (13), Jacob Hall (13) and Coombs (12) scoring in double figures.

“Maddox was awesome,” said Great Bend coach Kyle Kriegh. “He did a good job defensively. Carter played well too.”

Premer was slowed by foul trouble and superb Indian defense. He didn’t score until the 4:38 mark of the second period. Premer made quick work with six points for a 26-14 halftime lead. Premer broke loose for a pair of rim-rattling slam dunks for a 37-20 lead and a second jam for a 55-33 lead in the fourth quarter to finish with 13 points.

The Panthers executed superbly with 26 of 49 shooting (52%).

Great Bend showed off its best defensive intensity of the season. Great Bend made life miserable for Hays’ 6-5 Carson Ruder, who shot an airball, drew a charge running over Izeah Reed and seeing his shot get blocked by Cooper Ohnmacht. Ruder missed his first six field goal attempts.

Shifty point guard Jack Weimer had his moments with a game high 18 points off 10 of 12 free throw shooting by attacking the basket. Pesky defender Dax Minton induced Weimer to misfire on all six 3-point attempts. Trey Oakley added 13 points. The Indians made 19 of 44 field goals, 2 of 12 from long range.

“We found out tonight if we were tough enough to beat Hays,” said Great Bend coach Kyle Kriegh. “We did a good job defensively. Jack Weimer is a stud, super quick and a good shooter.”

The Indians scored 28 points in the fourth quarter and outscored the Panthers 21-12 down the stretch to make the final score respectable.

“We knew Hays wouldn’t quit,” Kriegh said.

Hays High 4 10 12 28 – 54

Great Bend 16 10 19 22 – 67

HAYS (13-7, 7-1)—Weimer 4-14 10-12 18, Oakley 6-10 0-0 13, Muller 2-6 2-2 7, Cano 1-1 0-0 2, Iaaac Fox 0-0 0-2 0, Kaiser Fox 1-2 0-0 2, Ruder 3-9 0-0 6, Johnson 2-2 2-2 6, Totals 19-44 14-18 54.

GREAT BEND (15-5, 6-2)—Spray 6-11 3-3 15, Premer 6-12 1-4 13, Hall 5-11 2-4 13, Coombs 3-3 5-7 12, Dicks 3-5 0-0 8, Nicholson 1-3 0-0 2, Minton 1-1 0-0 2, Reed 1-2 0-0 2, Ohnmacht 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 26-49 11-18 67.

3-pointers—H 2-12 (Muller 1-3, Oakley 1-3, Weimer 0-6); GB 4-9 (Dicks 2-2, Coombs 1-1, Hall 1-2, Nicholson 0-1, Reed 0-1, Spray 0-1, Premer 0-1)

5A WEST BOYS

MAIZE—2-27—Maize South 20-0 vs. Valley Center 4-16, 7; 2-27—Andover Central 13-7 vs. Emporia 13-7, 7; 3-1—Championship

WICHITA—2-27—Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 17-3 vs. Arkansas City 5-15, 7; 2-28—Hays High 13-7 vs. Goddard 12-8, 6; 3-1—Championship

ANDOVER—2-27—Andover 16-4 vs. Salina Central 6-14, 7; 2-27—Topeka West 13-7 vs. Topeka Seaman 9-11, 7; 3-1—Championship

GREAT BEND—2-27—Great Bend 15-5 vs. Wichita Carroll 7-13, 6; Hutchinson 2-27—13-6 vs. Goddard Eisenhower 8-12, 7; 3-1—Championship

NO POSTSEASON—Salina South 3-16; Newton 2-17