Lauren Welsch gives the Great Bend High School girls’ basketball team another dimension in their youthful lineup.
Welsch, a freshman guard, helped fuel a Lady Panthers rally, where they came back from a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter to pull away for a 59-44 victory over Dodge City during Friday night’s Hall of Fame action at Panther Fieldhouse.
Welsch’s penetration freed up Great Bend’s leading scorer, post player Morgan Harwood, who scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, as the Lady Panthers uncorked a 26-5 surge to win going away.
“The girls really responded very well after it was kind of like they needed a little jolt,” said GBHS head coach Carrie Minton, whose team improved to 12-6 overall, including 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference, good for sole possession of second place in the standings.
Garden City (7-0) wrapped up the league crown by edging Hays 47-43 in Garden City on Friday night. Hays falls to No. 3 in the standings at 3-3.
“It seemed like we were a little slow coming out to start the game (in falling behind 26-20 at intermission),” Minton said, “and the first half wasn’t played at the pace that we like to play.
“Finally, in the fourth quarter, we started to get things going and being aggressive.”
The Lady Panthers’ McKenna Mauler’s go-ahead 3-pointer made it 44-43 with 4:14 remaining, sending them on a game-ending 18-1 run.
Dodge City (5-13, 1-5) had its biggest lead at 39-29 with 47 seconds left in the third quarter, but it managed only five points the remainder of the game.
GBHS started turning the game in its favor after Welsch put in a basket and Tarynn Stueder made a steal and scored off a drive to the hoop with 2.5 seconds showing on the clock in the third quarter, slashing the margin to 39-33.
At the outset of the final period, Harwood took over the game, scoring eight straight points, with Welsch simply drawing defenders when she penetrated into the lane and dishing off to the 5-foot-11 junior.
“That’s what our offense is based off of, the drive,” Minton said. “We look to penetrate and get a layup. If we don’t get that layup, we’re looking to our post player and it was nice to see all of the the girls drive.
“We got a spark off the bench from Lauren (who totaled four assists). She was able to attack the defense with some fresh legs.”
Early on, keyed by a 3-pointer from Regan Unruh from the left wing at the end of the first quarter, along with a Stueder driving layup at the six-minute mark in the second period, Great Bend held a 15-8 lead.
But freshman post player Jessie Harshberger and junior guard Katrina Roenfeldt led a mini-run by the Lady Demons. Harshberger, who scored all eight of her points in the first half, hit a pair of baskets, along with Roendfeldt adding a pair of free throws. Harshberger also added a third bucket in the paint, giving Dodge City a 19-15 lead with two minutes remaining in the half.
Unruh added her second 3 at the 1:15 mark to make it 19-18, but Roenfeldt made a pair at the line and Chandra Sain’s 3 pushed the Lady Demons’ edge back up to 24-18.
GBHS shot only 27.3 percent from the floor in the opening 16 minutes (6 for 22), and Dodge City made 9 of 22 (40.9 percent).
GAME NOTES — In a ceremony at halftime, GBHS senior linebacker Hunter Harrison was recognized and formally invited by Kansas Shriners to play in the 2013 Shrine Bowl football classic, a prestigious benefit all-star game, which will be held Saturday, July 27, in Topeka.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Great Bend High School 59,
Dodge City 44
DODGE CITY (5-13, 1-5)
Breckyne Pike 1 2-4 4, Summer Wilson 0 3-6 3, Rachel Durler 1 1-2 3, Chandra Sain 3 0-0 8, Alexis Sanchez 3 1-2 7, Jessie Harshberger 3 2-2 8, Katrina Roenfeldt 1 2-3 4, Shay Gonzalez 1 0-1 2, Ciera Lampe 1 2-2 5. Totals 14 13-22 44.
GREAT BEND (12-6, 4-2)
Lauren Welsch 1 4-4 6, Hannah Hildebrand 0 1-2 1, Kelsie Doll 1 2-2 4, Kylee Spray 3 1-3 7, Regan Unruh 2 1-3 7, Kaylie Doll 0 0-0 0, McKenna Mauler 2 0-0 5, Tarynn Stueder 3 3-7 10, Morgan Harwood 6 7-8 19. Totals 18 19-29 59.
Dodge City 7 19 13 5 — 44
Great Bend 11 9 13 26 — 59
Three-point goals — Great Bend 4 (Unruh 2, Stueder, Mauler); Dodge City 3 (Sain 2, Lampe). Total fouls — Dodge City 23, Great Bend 18. Fouled out — None.