You remember the game, don’t you?
That trip to Manhattan High School on Saturday evening earlier in the season, where the Lady Panthers played their best game of the season, exploding for 20 first-quarter points and playing four-plus quarters of intense basketball before falling 56-51 in overtime?
It’s going to take that type of effort for the Lady Panthers (9-11) to make an impact in the Class 5A sub-state tournament — and it all starts tonight as Great Bend travels to McPherson to take on the Lady Bullpups, the No. 2-ranked 5A team in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll with an 18-2 record.
If any team compares to Great Bend’s tough first-round opponent it would have to be the likes of a versatile Manhattan team or a Dodge City-led A’zlynn Thompson team — even though the inside presence of MAC post player Katelyn Loecker is hard to compare.
In their previous meeting, post player Katelyn Loecker scored 21 points in a 67-42 McPherson win over Great Bend at the Roundhouse. The 6-foot sophomore post player, is averaging just a fraction under a double-double with a 17.0 scoring average and a 9.9 rebounding average.
The Lady Panthers also need to be wary of 5-9 senior guard Casyn Buchman, who is averaging 13 points and 3.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. She has signed to play dual sports at Washburn University in Topeka (basketball and tennis).
In its most recent game, 51-46 road victory over Hays last Friday to end the regular season, Great Bend head coach Jason Tatkenhorst acknowledged that his team, for the most part, played well for four quarters while capturing second place outright in the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 5-3 mark.
“At the end of the year, when you’re playing good defense, teams are going to score on you and we just figured out a way to score down the stretch,” Tatkenhorst said after the Hays game.
The Lady Panthers had several seniors step up at critical times in the win over Hays — Cassidy Tutak and Lexie Brack having solid opening and closing games, finishing with 13 points apiece, while Kalie LeShore caused Hays havoc with her dribble penetration.
The Lady Panthers’ Taycee Bunn knocked down a 3-pointer, Jordan Haney had a pair of critical fourth-quarter baskets and Jennifer Allende had a putback just before the end of the third quarter.
Brack made 3 of 4 free throws, and LeShore and Allende both made 1 of 2 at the line in the final seconds.
Another senior, Kaitlee Spray missed her second straight game after suffering a concussion in the early minutes of the Great Bend-Liberal game 10 days ago.
But Spray was on the bench, sitting alongside GBHS assistant coach Kelsey Perry, helping any way she could during the win over Hays.
“It was very difficult for her to sit out with her concussion for a week, but she couldn’t have handled it any better,” Tatkenhorst said.
“She was a great leader.”
The winner between McPherson and Great Bend will play the Newton-Hays winner at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at Salina South for the right to advance to the state tournament in Topeka.
McPherson lost out on a coin flip on Saturday to Salina South, which is also 18-2.