HAYS — As Newton High School crept closer in the second half on Thursday afternoon during the first round of the Hays City Shoot-Out, the Great Bend Panthers stood firm.
Great Bend outscored the Railers 17-12 during the fourth quarter to hold on for a season-opening 44-36 victory at Felten Middle School.
Guards Matt Marshall and Bryce Beck combined to score 10 of the Panthers’ final 11 points, as they advanced to today’s 5:45 p.m. semifinal against DeSoto. DeSoto defeated Thomas More Prep-Marian 57-34 Thursday night.
“You’ve got to step up late in the game and we’ve talked that you’ve got to be a 70-percent free-throw shooter, so you can be on the floor late in games,” GBHS head coach Chris Battin said.
“I thought (Marshall and Beck), they stepped up and hit them when it really mattered.”
Beck, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, playing in his first varsity game, hit a pair of free throws with 4:20 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Panthers a 35-28 lead.
After Newton closed to 35-31, Beck hit a short pull-up jump shot to give GBHS a 37-31 edge at the 2:55 mark.
Newton again made it a four-point game at 37-33 on an Austin Krogmeier putback with 1:54 to go.
But the Railers would get no closer.
Marshall, a 5-11 junior, who finished with a team-high 10 points, would score the Panthers’ next five points — two on a driving layup at the 1:36 mark for a 39-33 cushion.
After Newton’s Shelby Grosch made the second of two foul shots, Marshall answered by doing the same on the other end of the floor for a 40-34 lead.
Grosch again made 1 of 2 foul shots, this time with 41.3 seconds left to pull the Railers within 40-35. But the Panthers proceeded to knock down 4 of 6 from the line to put the game away, including 2 for 2 for Marshall, 1 for 2 for Beck and 1 for 2 for Gabe Joiner.
Ethan Henderson, a 6-2 junior swingman, added eight points for the Panthers, including a pair of 3-pointers.
“Any time you get the ball inside-out against a zone, you can get a good look at it and he stepped up and knocked it down and that’s huge,” Battin said.
“(Henderson) had two where he did that.”
Newton chiseled away at a 21-12 halftime deficit, going on a 10-5 run during the opening six minutes of the third quarter to carve the gap to 26-22. The Panthers led 27-22 after three quarters.
“We had a period there where it wasn’t very good,” Battin said, “and down the stretch, we finally gained our composure, started valuing the basketball and we took care of it better.
“We stepped up and made some free throws when it ultimately mattered. The kids played hard and did a good job.”
Employing man-to-man full-court pressure with Joiner on the ball, Great Bend disrupted Newton’s offensive flow from the outset, forcing numerous turnovers and bad shots, a telltale indication of what was in store for the Railers.
“We’ve gone to a newer style and we want to play hard,” Battin said. “I feel like this is the way to get our kids to continue to play hard. It’s something we like.
“We’re going to get after people, and we felt like it sped them up and forced them into some bad shots early. Ultimately, that’s what you want.”
Great Bend led 12-5 after one quarter and extended the margin to 21-12 at halftime.
The Panthers led 6-5 in the early going before Beck and Marshall hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Marshall’s coming with 1.5 seconds left in the period for their seven-point lead.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Hays City Shootout
Felten Middle School
Great Bend 44, Newton 36
Austin Krogmeier 3 2-3 8, Jacob Wright 1 0-0 2, Gunner Drinnen 1 0-0 3, Grant Walker 1 3-5 6, Shelby Grosch 0 3-6 3, Jenson Kingsley 3 1-3 9, Braedon Morrison 0 1-2 1, Lane Pauls 0 0-0 0, Matt Lawrence 2 0-0 4, Cory Martens 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 10-19 36.
GREAT BEND (1-0)
Matt Marshall 2 5-8 10, Chad Touslee 1 0-2 2, Brock Ibarra 2 0-0 4, Bryce Beck 2 3-5 8, Gabe Joiner 2 1-2 5, Ethan Henderson 3 0-0 8, Roderick Frise 2 1-2 5, Wyatt Bayless 1 0-1 2, Connor Sell 0 0-0 0, Mauricio Uribe 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 10-20 44.
Newton 5 7 10 12 — 36
Great Bend 12 9 6 17 — 44
Three-point goals — Great Bend 4 (Henderson 2, Beck, Marshall); Newton 4 (Kingsley 2, Drinnen, Walker).