Struggling in December, the Great Bend High School boys’ basketball team managed only one win in five outings.
After a holiday break filled with practicing and learning, Great Bend travels to Garden City tonight for the Western Athletic Conference opener. The girls game starts at 6, followed by the boys at around 8.
The Panthers opened their season at the Hays City Shoot-Out on Nov. 29, winning one of three games, including a 53-27 manhandling of Class 3A Thomas More Prep Marian. They lost 44-28 to 4A De Soto in their first game and also narrowly lost to 3A Riley County in their final game of the tournament, 50-49.
The next week, the Panthers had back-to-back road games against 6A schools. They fell to Junction City, 49-38 on Dec. 7, followed by a 49-32 setback to Manhattan on Dec. 8, their last action.
“Right before Christmas and coming back after the break, we actually had some time to slow it down a little bit and work on some things and fix some mistakes,” Panthers head coach Chris Battin said. “The kids were able to ask questions and get some things figured out, where we weren’t able to do that previously because of situations and different things.
“We just never were able to talk about those things.”
Senior guard Brock Ibarra leads the Panthers with a 7.2 scoring average, and senior power forward Ethan Henderson is averaging 6.8 points and a team-best 6.2 rebounds.
Garden City’s boys enter the game with a 4-2 record.
The Lady Panthers take a 3-2 record into conference play, having already tied last season’s win output.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Carrie Minton, Great Bend lost to De Soto, 44-29, in the opening round of the Hays City Shoot-out. The Lady Panthers then ran off three straight wins. They beat TMP Marian, 58-37; Riley County, 54-53; and 6A Junction City, on the road, 51-43. In their most recent game, Dec. 8, the Lady Panthers had a second-half rally come up shy in a 59-50 setback to unbeaten 6A powerhouse Manhattan.
Junior post player Morgan Harwood has led the Lady Panthers in scoring the last two games, scoring 16 points against Junction City and 10 against Manhattan.
The Lady Buffs are 5-1 overall.