BY KEVIN PRICE
ELLINWOOD — It looked as though the hot-shooting Larned High School boys’ basketball was going to run away in the conference game on Friday, but Ellinwood turned the game around to win 45-35 in front of the home crowd.
In the first quarter, Justin Vratil was downright terrifying from beyond the arc.
Vratil opened by draining a 3-pointer from the right wing.
The Eagles were able to get the ball inside to big man Brett Whelan on the other end of the court for two points, but Jahman Hill dribbled the ball back down the court for the Indians and drained a 3-ball from the top of the key.
The Eagles failed to convert on their next possession, and Larned found Vratil in the same position as his first 3. He hit the shot and got fouled. Vratil, who hit the free throw to complete a four-point play, finished the first quarter with 12 points but managed only two points the rest of the way in finishing with 14.
Ellinwood’s Ian Goering scored from under the basket to make it 10-4 with four minutes left in the first quarter.
“We’ve been doing a better job in the last few games getting the ball inside, whether on an entry or on the dribble,” Ellinwood head coach Shane Duncan said. “That was something that we tried to establish early on in this game. I thought the kids did a great job attacking the rim. I would have liked to get to the line a little bit more, but I was still pleased with what the kids did.”
Josh Wise scored two points for the Indians, and the Eagles answered with their own trey, courtesy of Kyle Corbett, who finished the game with a game-high 22 points.
“We came out hot and playing well,” Larned head coach Al Troyer said. “Defensively, we played well. We held them under 50 points and that’s the thing that we tried to do. They just went to (a) triangle-and-two that covered our two shooters and we had some other open shooters, but we just weren’t hitting them.
“You get those looks in the paint, you got to put them in. (Corbett) for them was having a pretty good game and we just didn’t have an answer for him in the second half.”
The Indians finished the first quarter ahead 19-9. It was the only quarter that Larned was able to outscore the Eagles.
Duncan said that he made some adjustments on defense to contain Larned’s shooting threats.
“It was just one of those things that they did (to) come out that hot,” Duncan said, “and if they were going to shoot that well the entire game, you know, you tip your hat, you shake their hand and move on to the next game.
“We felt comfortable that we could do some things defensively that would make it a little more difficult for them, which is why we went to a triangle and two on (Vratil and Hill).”
Ellinwood turned the tables on the Indians in the second quarter.
Corbett, who grabbed four rebounds and had two steals in the game, led the Eagles with six points in the second quarter that saw Ellinwood reclaim the lead, going ahead 25-23 at haftime. The lead never changed in the second half.
“Kyle ended up with 22 points tonight,” Duncan said. “Early on, I don’t think we were reading the high pick-and- roll extremely well, but as the game went out, Kyle’s a very smart ball player. He was able to read it much more effectively through the final three quarters, and get to the rim and make the extra pass. So, yeah, I thought Kyle had a really good game tonight.”
Chantz Clawson came off the bench for the Eagles to contribute six points in Ellinwood’s scoring spree. Clawson got a steal and two rebounds, and was vital in shutting down Larned’s Hill.
Brett Whelan finished with nine points and six rebounds.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Ellinwood 45, Larned 35
Jahman Hill 2 0-0 5, Jeret Johnson 0 0-0 0, Justin Vratil 3 5-7 14, Tyler Gleason 2 2-2 6, Josh Wise 2 0-0 4, Nolan Allison 3 0-0 6. Totals 12 7-9 35.
Kyle Corbett 7 3-5 22, Chantz Clawson 3 0-0 6, Kyle Blakeslee 2 0-0 4, Patrick Ringering 0 0-0 0, Taner Osborn 1 0-0 2, Brett Whelan 3 1-3 9, Kale Clawson 0 0-2 0, Ian Goering 1 0-0 2. Totals 16 4-10 45.
Larned 19 4 6 6 — 35
Ellinwood 9 16 9 11 — 45
Three-point goals — Larned 4 (Vratil 3, Hill); Ellinwood 3 (Corbet 3).