Here we go again.
The storyline is familiar: Great Bend High School vs. Hays.
Yet this time the stakes are much higher.
This is the Class 5A sub-state basketball tournament, mind you. Winning 2 of 3 in the season series extends your season.
Great Bend and Hays — Western Athletic Conference foes alike — enter tonight’s game in Hays with tipoff set for 7. Great Bend is 11-9 overall and Hays is 10-9. The winner likely advances to play top-ranked McPherson at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night at Salina South — site of the sub-state — while the losing team’s season is over.
Let’s take a brief flashback to the previous two meetings between Great Bend and Hays.
Just six days ago, these two teams met at the same locale that they will meet tonight. In that game, Hays leveled the season series at one game apiece after posting a 58-49 win in a game where it converted 19 of 24 free throws.
The Panthers hit four of their six 3-pointers in that game during the final one minute, 42 seconds in a too little, too late scenario.
Back on Jan. 11 in Great Bend, Great Bend’s Greg Hildebrand’s tiebreaking 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer gave the Panthers a 41-38 victory and helped avoid overtime in the process.
At 4-4, Great Bend wrapped up second place in the WAC standings behind Dodge City. The Demons went unbeaten in seven games in winning their second straight conference crown after finishing 7-1 a season ago.
Hays finished third in the conference standings with a 3-5 record.