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Panther coach faces former team
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Great Bends Kody Crosby fights for rebounding position during a game last season.


HAYS — The opener for first-year Great Bend boys basketball coach Tim Brooks is against Manhattan High School — his former team. Brooks coached the Indians from 2004 to 2014, compiling a 116-100 record. The Panthers enter Thursday’s 3:30 p.m. opener at Hays High in the underdog role.
“Manhattan is the team we thought we’d start with two other league teams playing at Hays,” Brooks said.
No. 3 Class 6A Manhattan captured the 2015 Hays City Shootout championship with an 82-72 victory over Olathe North. The Indians feature returning Centenntial League Player of the Year Trevor Hudgins and honorable mention all-league Tommy Ekart. Ekart was co-Most Inspirational Player, the best defensive player and led the Indians in assist-to-turnover ratio.
“They are excellent players who perform with such confidence,” Brooks said. “They create offense for their other players and they are great defensively.”
Former assistant Benji George, a native of Clyde, has guided the Indians to a 36-7 record, but they were upset both years at substate.
Brooks coached the Indians to two Class 6A state tournaments during his 10 seasons. The Indians lost to 6A state champion Wichita Heights in 2010 and state runner-up Lawrence in 2008.
“The other teams knew they were going to get a battle and had to play really well to beat us,” Brooks said. “We’ve had very good years, years where we overachieved.”
At Manhattan, Brooks compiled a 6-2 coaching record against Great Bend. George’s Manhattan team swept the Panthers 61-45 and 47-36 during the 2014-2015 season.
Brooks likes his starting lineup. The Panthers will start all-league Kody Crosby (14 ppg), Jacob Murray, Brayden Smith, Logan Perry and Konner Ireland. Murray and Smith missed more than a week of practice because of football.
“So far, so good,’ Brooks said. “The guys are working and trying hard. These guys have a high basketball IQ, and are doing a decent job. We can’t get too advanced. We’re still at the point we are thinking rather than playing basketball.”
Brooks want to minimize turnovers, which will be a challenge.
“To have a chance to be successful, we have to take care of the basketball,” Brooks said. “We’ve got good teammates who help each other out and do what’s right. We’d love to give ourselves chance.”
Brooks eventually wants to switch defenses and force the offense to face man-to-man, zone and a variety of trapping defenses.
• PANTHER GIRLS — The Great Bend girls open at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Hays Middle School against Manhattan, a team they’ve played in recent years. The Indians swept the past three meetings, 57-27 and 51-33 in 2015 and 72-57 in 2014. The state-round Panthers beat the Indians 60-58 in 2013.

1—Eric Woods 5-11, jr.
2—Ty Esfeld, 6-1, jr.
3—Kody Crosby 6-6, sr.
5—Brock Blessing, 6-1, so.
10—Korbin Widiger, 5-11, so.
11—Konner Ireland, 5-10, sr.
12—Brayden Smith, 6-5, sr.
13—Logan Perry, 6-3, sr.
14—Dominique Rideaux, 5-8, sr.
15—Trent Steuder, 6-5, so.
22—Koy Brack, 6-0, so.
23—Jacob Murray, 6-0, sr.
30—Blake Penka, 5-11, so.
31—Marcus Schmeidler, 6-3, so.

4—Isaiah Gilliam, 5-6, so.
20—Calan Haberman, 5-6, so.
21—Chance Perry, 5-10, so.
34—Blaine Mermis, 6-4, so.
Coaches—Tim Brooks, Brandon Wells, Matt Simmons

1—Nicholas Wondra, 6-0
2—Joel Ortiz
4—Sam Ryan, 5-6
10—Dalton Miller, 5-7
13—Connor Griffith, 5-7
14—Ray Kuhlman, 5-4
21—Bryce Brown, 5-9
24—Alex Olivas, 5-7
33—Joey Soupiset, 5-10
15—Evan Campbell, 5-7
12—Riley Smith, 5-6
Coach—Cody Carlson

2013—Manhattan 65, Panthers 44
2012—Manhattan 61, Panthers 43; Manhattan 49, Panthers 32
2011—Manhattan 68, Panthers 31; Great Bend 40, Manhattan 39, OT
2010—Manhattan 47, Panthers 28
2007—Manhattan 43, Panthers 30
2006—Great Bend 52, Manhattan 37

HHS (Hays High School); HMS (Hays Middle School)
12-1—Gamer 1—Great Bend vs. Manhattan, HHS, 3:30; Game 2—Olathe North vs. Hays-Thomas More Prep, HMS, 5:15; Game 3—Hays vs. Garden City, HHS, 7 p.m.
12-2—Game 4—Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 3:30; Game 5—Losers Game 1, 2, HMS, 5:15 p.m.; Game 6—Winners Games 2, 3, HHS, 7 p.m.
12-3—Game 7—4th Place—Losers Games 4, 5, HMS, 11:45 a.m.; Game 8, 3rd Place—Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, HHS, 1:30; Game 9, Championship—Winners Games 4, 6, HHS, 5 p.m.

HHS (Hays High School); HMS (Hays Middle School)
12-1—Game 1—Great Bend vs. Manhattan, HMS, 3:30; Game 2—Hays vs. Garden City, HHS, 5:15; Game 3—Olathe North vs. Hays-Thomas More Prep, HMS, 7 p.m.
12-2—Game 4—Losers Games 1, 3, HMS, 3:30; Game 5—Winners Games 2, 3, HHS, 5:15; Game 6—Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, HMS, 7 p.m.
12-3—Game 7, 4th Place—Losers Games 4, 6, HMS, 10 a.m.; Game 8, 3rd Place—Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 5, HMS, 1:30; Game 9, Championship—Winners Games 5, 6, HHS, 3:15