HOISINGTON — Tonight, the Great Bend High School basketball teams meet Hoisington in non-conference action.
The girls game is slated to tip off at 6, with the boys at around 8.
The Panthers will look to contain Hoisington’s post player, 6-foot-8 sophomore Cody Stetler.
“(Hoisington) is a big, athletic, physical team,” Panthers head coach Chris Battin said. “They are very good in transition and they are coached well. (Stetler) is going to be a tough matchup for us. We’ll have to overcome their size with our quickness.
“Drive into the lane and try to use our speed to shake him up a little.”
Stetler averages a double-double per game with 15.8 points and 10.4 rebounds, leading the Cardinals in each category.
As far as other offensive weapons that Hoisington has, 6-5 junior Derrick Kaiser has had success on the perimeter, as well as driving to the basket.
As the early season points leader, Kaiser shoots 42 percent from beyond the arc and averages 14.9 points per game. Defensively, Kaiser averages 3.6 steals per game to lead the Cardinals.
Ryan Bieberle, the 5-8 senior guard, also averages in double digits with 12.4 points.
The Cards have spent a large portion of the season in the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, first breaching the top 10 of Class 3A on Dec. 20 and currently sitting at No. 5.
“I expect intensity and solid defense (from Great Bend),” Hoisington head coach Kyle Haxton said. “They are every well defensively. We know they’ll be a physical team that will be tougher than most of the teams we’ve faced this season.”
Hoisington is coming off a home loss to No. 9 Hutchinson-Trinity in a low scoring affair, 38-30, last Friday night.
Trinity held Hoisington’s big man to only eight points.
“(Great Bend) has a similar style to Hutch-Trinity,” Haxton said. “They have quick guards, and so does Trinity. We have some quick guards, too. I think everyone sees our size on paper and thinks that’s what we’re all about, but we have a good perimeter game, too.”
In fact, both of Hoisington’s blemishes this season came against Class 3A teams that have been ranked for most of the season, losing to No. 4 Minneapolis in the final game of the Cardinals’ Winter Jam.
“(The loss) is definitely a motivational factor,” Haxton said. “We did not play good basketball on Friday, not to take anything away from Hutch. when you play a good team, you have to bring it.
“We just didn’t bring it on Friday. I think the team will do whatever it takes to not feel that feeling again.”
The closest Hoisington’s come to facing a 5A school is the Cardinals’ wins over 4A Russell, 60-37, on Jan. 18 and Hesston, 62-53, on Jan. 29.
Hoisington’s 3A competition includes Sedgwick, Minneapolis, Trinity, Larned and Thomas More Prep-Marian.
Great Bend, as a 5A school, will be the largest school Hoisington will face all season.
“Everyone knows how good they are,” Battin said. “3A, 5A, it doesn’t really matter that much in basketball. We are just going to have to play extremely well against them.”
The Panthers are coming off an emotion-fueled win over Western Athletic Conference foe Liberal on the road on Saturday night.
Great Bend had the ball as time ticked down in regulation, overtime and second overtime. But each time the Panthers were unable to get the ball through the hoop, taking three-point shots in each situation.
Then, in the final two minutes of triple overtime, Dakota Ellis played the hero both offensively, dropping in a two-point bucket to give Great Bend a 51-49 lead, and defensively, taking a charge from Liberal standout Jade Cathey, fouling him out of the game in the final period.
Greg Hildebrand added to the lead with .1 seconds left when the Redskins fouled him, hitting both free throws to give his team a 53-49 lead and giving himself 11 points in the game.
Battin said that Hildebrand is leading his team averaging about 12 points per game, with Jace Bowman right behind him averaging around 11.
Both teams expect this game to help them prepare for sub-state competition.
“When you play a team with the size and athleticism that Hoisington has, it will definitely prepare us for the kind of competition we’ll see at sub-state,” Battin said. “We play Hays on Friday, and they have a big player, too.”
Haxton agrees that tonight’s game will only help his team.
“When we needed games on our schedule, I worked to find games that will get us ready for sub-state,” Haxton said. “No matter what happens, the intensity that Great Bend brings will definitely prepare us.”