HAYS — You never know how a basketball team will react in a season opener. One minute they’re clicking on all cylinders and the next, well, things goes dormant.
After having a promising start against De Soto High School on Thursday afternoon in an opening-round game of the Hays City Shoot-Out, the Great Bend Panthers hit a wall at the outset of the third quarter. Having a lengthy drought that lasted until the final 1:40 of the fourth quarter at the Hays Middle School gymnasium, Great Bend allowed the Wildcats to come back and salt away a 52-44 win.
The Panthers drop into today’s consolation bracket and will play Thomas More Prep Marian at 4:45 at Hays Middle School.
Great Bend, led by the play of Ethan Henderson, a senior power forward, built a 25-16 halftime lead after hitting 11 of 19 shots from the floor during the first 16 minutes. Henderson scored all of his team-high 13 points during the opening half, scoring both inside and out.
“I thought he played really well and knocked down some shots for us,” Battin said of Henderson, the top returning scorer and rebounder from last season. “He had a really good first half and was rebounding really well for us. I’m proud of the way he played.
“We had good defensive intensity, we moved the ball and we took good shots. Any time you do that, you feel like you have a good chance to win. We did those things in the first half, and we only turned the ball over six times. It was just the opposite in the second half.”
It all changed at the start of the third quarter. After GBHS junior guard Bryce Beck hit a basket at the 7:40 mark for a 27-16 GBHS lead, De Soto went on a decisive 9-0 run to get back into contention, carving the margin to 27-25 after Quinton Verhulst hit a 3-pointer and a driving layup.
The Panthers finally ended their drought after Beck converted a pair of free throws with 49.5 seconds left in the period, giving them a 29-25 lead entering the final eight minutes. Beck finished with 10 points.
De Soto took control of the game at that juncture, unleashing a 16-0 outburst, the start of outscoring the Panthers 27-15 in the fourth quarter, for a 41-25 lead with 2½ minutes remaining. The Panthers were stuck on 29 until Matt Marshall buried a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining, the first three of a barrage of Panthers points — 15 down the stretch that proved to be too little, too late.
“We turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and you just can’t do that,” Battin said. “It was a total team effort in the second half of turnovers and non-execution, and that was the difference.
“We couldn’t get over the hump after they made their run and couldn’t turn it around.”
De Soto, which made 11 of 18 foul shots after halftime, was paced by 6-4 junior Quinton Verhulst with 13 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Dalton Verhulst scored 12 points for the Wildcats, and 6-6 senior post player Isaac Leuth finished with 10 points.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
30th Annual Hays City Shoot-Out
Hays Middle School
De Soto 52, Great Bend 44
DE SOTO (1-0)
Braiden Turner 1 2-4 4, Luke Stenzel 0 0-0 0, Gage Carroll 4 1-2 9, Dalton Verhulst 3 5-6 12, Jason Johnson 0 0-0 0, Ryan Stallbaumer 2 0-0 4, Quinton Verhulst 5 0-0 13, Isaac Lueth 3 4-8 10. Totals 18 12-20 52.
GREAT BEND (0-1)
Matt Marshall 2 0-0 6, Chad Touslee 0 0-0 0, Brock Ibarra 1 0-0 3, Bryce Beck 3 4-4 10, Dillon Reiser 0 0-0 0, Gabe Joiner 3 0-2 8, Ethan Henderson 6 1-1 13, Josh Lutz 1 0-0 2, Nick Warren 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 5-7 44.
De Soto 7 9 9 27 — 52
Great Bend 10 15 4 15 — 44
Three-point goals — Great Bend 5 (Marshall 2, Joiner 2, Ibarra); De Soto 4 (Verhulst 3, Turner). Total fouls — Great Bend 22, De Soto 10. Fouled out — Henderson.
Hays City Shoot-Out
De Soto 52, Great Bend 44
Kearney, Neb. 83, TMP Marian 44
Newton 71, Riley County 27
Hays 69, Colby 23