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Panthers roll into semis after bouncing Colby
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Senior point guard Will Gray of Great Bend High School looks to swing the basketball during the Panthers season-opening win over Colby Thursday afternoon during the opening round of the Hays City Shoot-Out at the Felten Middle School gymnasium. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

At Hays
Hays City Shoot-Out
First round
Felten Middle School
Thursday’s game
Great Bend 48, Colby 26

Jace Bowman 2-10 2-2 7, Greg Hildebrand 3-8 3-4 10, Cameron Casey 3-5 0-0 7, Jeff Pike 3-6 1-3 8, Will Gray 0-2 0-0 0, Dakota Ellis 2-3 3-4 7, Nick Warren 2-4 0-0 4, Roderick Frise 0-0 0-0 0, Wyatt Bayless 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 17-42 10-18 48.
COLBY (0-1)

Andrew Ketchum 0-1 0-0 0,  Zane Winger 0-0 1-2 1, Kale Amberger 3-7 2-4 9, Christian Wilson 0-4 0-0 0, Clint Goossen 0-2 0-0 0, Corbin Stephens 2-12 0-1 4, Todd Kane 1-4 0-2 2, Braden Sager 3-7 0-0 6, Spencer Tubbs 2-9 0-3 4. Totals 11-46 3-12 26.
Great Bend  11  14  13  10  —  48
Colby             9   2   11    4  —  26

Three-point goals — Great Bend 4-13 (Bowman 1-4, Casey 1-3, Hildebrand 1-2, Pike 1-2, Hafner 0-1, Gray 0-1); Colby 1-5 (Arnberger 1-2, Stephens 0-2, Goossen 0-1). Total fouls — Colby 17, Great Bend 15. Fouled out — None.

HAYS — Not only did the Great Bend High School boys’ basketball team flourish running a variation of the Princeton offense Thursday afternoon during the first round of the Hays City Classic.
The Panthers defense was also a strong suit.
Great Bend opened its season with a 48-26 drubbing of Colby at Felten Middle School, limiting the Eagles to just 23.9 percent shooting on the night — 11-for-46, including just 4-for-20 in the first half.
The Panthers, meanwhile, jumped out to a 25-11 halftime lead and never looked back, rolling into tonight’s semifinals against Newton, which nipped Thomas More Prep-Marian, 50-49. Tipoff is set for 5:45 p.m. at Hays High School.
“We really played well in the spurts,” Great Bend head coach Chris Battin said. “In the first quarter, we were definitely nervous. Sometimes it takes a little while to get used to the speed of a varsity game.”
That wasn’t the case for the Panthers, but it definitely was for the Eagles, who had their wings clipped against a Great Bend team that was quicker and far more under control.
“Defense is where we hang our hat,” Battin said. “That’s something we preach to our kids.
Colby missed its first five shots from the floor, and the Panthers were able to move ahead 11-9 on Hildebrand’s putback at the first-quarter buzzer.
In the second quarter, it got worse for Colby, as it managed just two points during the stretch. As a result, the Panthers went on a 14-2 sizz to build their lead to 14.
Cameron Casey, a senior guard, knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing during the opening minute of the second quarter.
Senior swingman Greg Hildebrand and junior guard Jace Bowman each had putbacks, followed by a Casey 10-foot bank shot. A three-point play by Wyatt Bayless with 1:01 left in the half made it 25-11.
Any thought Colby had of making a second-half comeback were squelched, when Bowman made a 3-ball from the left-corner pocket and Hildebrand scored on three straight possessions on a variety of  drives to the hoop. The surge increased the margin to 34-19 with 2:40 left in the third period, and then the Panthers’ starting making their backdoor cuts for easy baskets.
It all started with senior guard Will Gray making a slick pass into the paint to Casey for a layup and the Panthers’ first bucket of the fourth quarter.
Senior swingman Dakota Ellis scored off another backdoor cut, and then senior guard Jeff Pike did the same, as the Panthers doubled up the Eagles at 44-22.
Battin said Colby wasn’t clogging the Panthers’ passing lanes.
“Fortunately for us, it opened  up some backdoor cuts,” he said.
Hildebrand led the Panthers’ balanced scoring attack with 10 points. Four others had seven or more points.