The Hoisington High School Cardinals basketball team will be entering tonight’s game in Great Bend coming off a 55-36 home loss to Hesston.
As a result, the Cardinals, ranked No. 5 in Class 3A, spent time in practice on Monday trying to do a better job of getting the basketball inside to their leading scorer.
The opening tip is set for 8, following the girls’ game.
“In a word, ugly,” said Hoisington head coach Kyle Haxton in describing Saturday’s loss. “We struggled to get into a groove offensively, and it wasn’t about pressure. I mean, they did pressure the ball, but we handled it well. We just didn’t get into a groove.”
The Cardinals’ groove as of late has been getting the ball inside to their towering 6-foot-8 junior center, Cody Stetler.
Stetler, who missed a few games before and after the Christmas break with a foot injury, is averaging 16.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. He scored 17 points at Ness City on Jan. 24 and 18 points against Thomas More Prep-Marian last Thursday.
However, Stetler finished with only seven points against Hesston, including just one field goal.
“Sometimes, part of that goes back to the post player, but Saturday that wasn’t the case,” Haxton said. “There were windows where he was open. Our guards just didn’t see the opportunity, so we worked most of practice (on Monday) trying to get the ball inside to our post players. I was happy with how practice was going.”
With 6-5 Wyatt Bayless, 6-3 Chad Touslee and 6-3 Jace Bowman being Great Bend’s tallest players, Hoisington has a slight height advantage heading into the game, but Haxton said that it could be misleading.
“The tallest kid on Hesston’s team was 6-3,” Haxton said. “We should have had the advantage there. It looks good on paper. We have 6-5 and 6-4 with Derrick Kaiser and Anthony Broeder (respectively), but unless we execute, that size won’t help us.”
The Panthers have followed Bowman’s lead scoring-wise since his return to the court in January after recovering from a knee injury suffered during football season. In eight games this month, including three midseason tournament games, Bowman has led the Panthers in scoring in all but one.
Bowman, a senior, who is averaging a team-best 12.5 points, scored a season-high 19 points and teammate Ethan Henderson, a junior forward, added 17 points in Great Bend’s most recent game, a 61-45 non-conference win at Larned on Jan. 24.
The Panthers, 4-9, are seeking their third straight win.
Mack McClure contributed to this report.