By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Panthers push No. 1 Spartans
2 Ty EsfeldA
Ty Esfeld, sparkplug off the bench


EL DORADO – Defending Class 4A-Division 2 state champion Wichita Collegiate was pushed by No. 8 seed Great Bend in a 69-56 victory Thursday at the Bluestem Basketball Classic.
The Panthers (1-9) played well enough that Spartan coach Mitch Fiegel abandoned his platoon rotation in the second half.
Great Bend was a couple of plays from giving the Spartans a serious test after Collegiate lost last year’s first-round Bluestem game.
The Panthers strung together two superb stretches, the second a 9-2 run that sliced a 41-29 lead to 43-38 at the start of the fourth quarter.
It was during that stretch that the Panthers managed to convert three of eight free throws after attacking the basket. The Panthers made 13 of 24 free throws and committed 27 turnovers against the Spartans’ pressure.
“We had a spree of turnovers, don’t block out and missed some free throws. You can’t do that,” said Great Bend coach Tim Brooks. “If we make those plays, we’ll turn the corner.”
Kody Crosby and Brayden Smith scored baskets, but Smith, Jacob Murray and Logan Perry combined to miss five free throws.
“We got to the line when we were down five points in the second half,” Brooks said. “We have to step up with confidence and knock free throws down.”
Great Bend performed with determination and hustle. The Spartans’ other advantage was 11 offensive rebounds that led to second-chance points off the extra possessions.
Smith fouled out with 6:51 left and leading scorer Crosby (16 points) joined him on the sidelines at the four-minute mark. The Panthers’ interior defense collapsed without Smith and Crosby in the final minutes.
Spartan Cody McNerney muscled inside for 15 fourth-quarter points and finished with 31 points. McNerney scored nine points after Crosby fouled out and the Spartans outscored the Panthers 28-22 in a fast-paced fourth period. Gabe Fisher scored 10 points and Keandre Ashley added nine points.
But the Panthers kept battling. Ty Esfeld knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a 10-point night and Konner Ireland scored 12 points.
“Esfeld is a very capable knockdown shooter like he showed tonight,” Brooks said. “He’s been patient. As a coach, we have to get him more minutes. He’s got length defensively and gets steals.”
The Spartans (9-0) led 18-7 by converting nine Panther turnovers into nine points. Crosby scored four points and Esfeld, Smith and Koy Brack scored in a 12-2 run for a 20-19 score. McNerney scored five points for a 27-21 halftime lead.
The Spartans first score came off a lob pass by McNerney intended for Fisher that landed in the basket for a 3-pointer.
Great Bend (1-9) plays a consolation game at 3 p.m. Friday at El Dorado High School.

Great Bend 9 12 13 22 – 56
Collegiate 18 9 14 28 – 69
GREAT BEND—Kody Crosby 5-11 5-7 16; Brayden Smith 2-4 1-2 5; Ty Esfeld 3-3 2-2 10; Konner Ireland 5-7 0-0 12; Logan Perry 2-8 4-11 8; Koy Brack 2-3 0-0 4; Jacob Murray 0-2 1-2 1; Totals 18-38 13-24 56.
COLLEGIATE—McNerney13-19 4-12 31; Bradley 1-5 2-6 4; Dick 3-9 1-2 7; Guillo 1-3 0-0 3; Fisher 2-5 6-6 10; Ashley 3-3 2-2 9; Root 2-4 1-1 5; Kelley 0-4 0-0 0; Totals 25-52 16-29 69.
3-point goals—GB 4-11 (Esfeld 2-2, Ireland 2-4, Brack 0-1, Murray 0-2, Crosby 0-2), WC 3-10 (Ashley 1-1, McNerney 1-3, Guillo 1-3, Dick 0-3). TO—GB 27, WC 17.

Wichita Collegiate 69, Great Bend 56
Gardner-Edgerton 59, Circle 51
Wichita Trinity 51, El Dorado 46
Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel 58, Campus 44

3 p.m.—Great Bend vs. Circle
4:45 p.m.—El Dorado vs. Campus
6:30 p.m.—Wichita Trinity vs. Kapaun-Mt. Carmel
8:15 p.m.—Wichita Collegiate vs. Gardner-Edgerton