Tuesday night's non-conference high school home basketball game for Great Bend with Buhler provided a formidable test for the Lady Panthers.
The visiting Crusaders had a trio of frontline players in 5-foot-11 Taryn Torgerson, 5-11 Josie Williams and 5-10 Cailyn Bessmer — the type of size GBHS is bound to see against Western Athletic Conference leader and state-ranked Garden City in a key home game on Friday night, as well as in the postseason.
Great Bend countered Buhler's size by getting another solid game from 5-11 junior post player Morgan Harwood, along with the Lady Panthers lighting up Panther Fieldhouse for seven 3-pointers during a 61-50 victory.
Harwood scored a team-high 14 points, and GBHS, which improved its record to 10-5 on the season, takes a 3-1 record into the upcoming home clash with Garden City, ranked No. 8 in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association Class 6A rankings at 13-3 overall, including unbeaten in four WAC games.
"We knew the Williams girl was going to be tough inside and that was our focus in the first half," GBHS head coach Carrie Minton said. "We made some adjustments at halftime and obviously, we gave up some buckets to the Torgerson girl.
"Size-wise, they had a little bit of an advantage, but when it came to playing full-court basketball, our girls' speed and athleticism made up for that disadvantage and swung the momentum a couple times."
Great Bend answered every run the Crusaders made in the second half while gradually building on a four-point halftime lead.
The Lady Panthers' Tarynn Stueder, a junior forward, scored seven of her 12 points after halftime, and junior point guard McKenna Mauler finished with 10 points. Mauler, Kaylie Doll and Regan Unruh each had a pair of 3s, and Kylee Spray had one.
Torgerson scored a game-high 21 points, and Williams and Jessica Steffan added 11 apiece for Buhler (8-7).
While GBHS had five opening-half 3s, Buhler scored the final seven points of the second quarter to pull within 26-22 at halftime.
Mauler pumped in a 3-pointer from the top of the circle and Kaylie Doll hit another on the Lady Panthers' next trip, giving them a 26-15 lead at the 4:04 mark in the second quarter.
Torgerson's 3-pointer and two free throws apiece by Steffan and Alex Keller polished off its 7-0 run to close the gap to four points at the break.
Early on, Stueder flourished in transition, scoring five straight points on a pair of driving layups and 1 of 2 free throws for a 7-2 GBHS lead with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter.
Harwood sank a pair of foul shots and Kaylie Doll and Mauler nailed consecutive 3s, Mauler's coming at the 3:33 mark, to increase Great Bend's lead to 15-4.
After back-to-back baskets by Buhler, Spray got in the act with her trey at the 1:50 mark to make it 18-8.
It was 18-11 at the end of the first period.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
At Great Bend
Great Bend High School 61,
Jessica Steffan 2 7-8 11, Hannah Baldin 0 0-0 0, Kaley Dick 0 0-0 0, Alex Keller 0 2-4 2, Cailyn Bessmer 2 1-2 5, Josie Williams 5 1-2 11, Vickie Dukart 0 0-0 0, Taryn Torgerson 7 0-0 21. Totals 16 11-16 50.
GREAT BEND (10-5)
Lauren Welsch 0 0-0 0, Hannah Hildebrand 2 0-0 4, Kelsie Doll 1 0-0 2, Peyton Burkhart 0 0-0 0, Kylee Spray 1 0-2 3, Regan Unruh 2 2-2 8, Kaylie Doll 3 0-0 8, McKenna Mauler 3 2-4 10, Tarynn Stueder 3 6-9 12, Morgan Harwood 5 4-6 14. Totals 20 14-23 61.
Buhler 11 11 17 11 — 50
GBHS 18 8 18 17 — 61
Three-point goals — Great Bend 7 (Mauler 2, Kay. Doll 2, Unruh 2); Buhler 2 (Torgerson 2). Total fouls — Great Bend 20, Buhler 18. Fouled out — None.