You had to wonder which Great Bend High School boys’ basketball team would show up for Friday night’s Homecoming and Western Athletic Conference tilt against Liberal.
Would it be the Panthers, who rattled off recent back-to-back wins against previously unbeaten Hays and two-time defending WAC champion Dodge City?
Or would it be the GBHS team that struggled in taking home sixth place from El Dorado’s Blue Stem Classic in mid-January, along with coming off a lackluster 50-44 loss at Hoisington on Tuesday in non-conference action?
Unfortunately for the Panthers, they had to endure one of their biggest struggles of the season, a 47-39 setback to the Redskins at Panther Fieldhouse.
“We’ve had two nights in a row now where we just haven’t come out and played,” Great Bend head coach Chris Battin said. “We just didn’t fight tonight. We didn’t play hard and we didn’t execute.
“We didn’t do the things that we want to be known for, and they took it to us. We’ve got to right the ship in practice, and that’s 100-percent my responsibility. We’re going to have to get better and turn things around and unfortunately, we’re not doing that right now.”
GBHS (5-9 overall, 2-2 WAC) was led in scoring by senior power forward Ethan Henderson with 11 points. Henderson was named a king and softball standout Stephanie Morrison was named queen during homecoming festivities before the game.
But it was the Redskins who crashed the party. Led by guards Trenton Hammond and William Ross with 11 points apiece, they got their first conference win, improving to 4-11, 1-3.
The Panthers, who committed 22 turnovers, had no answer in taking care of the basketball, hitting some shots or defending.
“We missed some really good shots, and then we took some really bad shots,” Battin said. “I think we shot 21 or 23 percent for the game. Anytime you do that, it’s not good.
“We’ve got to do a better job of knocking down shots, and we’ve got to be sure that we’re taking good shots. We took some questionable ones, and that led to easy run-outs for the other team. We’re going to have to fix some things, and shooting is going to have to be one of them.”
A long scoring drought in the first half put GBHS in a 24-14 disadvantage at the halftime buzzer.
Great Bend’s Bryce Beck’s 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:48 mark in the first quarter cut Liberal’s lead to 10-6.
They would not score again until near the three-minute mark in the second period, and Liberal’s Blake Stout and Elmer Quintana hit back-to-back 3s during the final 2:44 of the half to give the Redskins their 10-point lead.
Hammond converted a three-point play and Stout hit his second trey to extend their lead to 31-14 with 6:35 left in the third quarter.
Great Bend trimmed the margin down to eight points in the late going after trailing 36-20 entering the fourth period.
Wyatt Bayless and Dillon Reiser added nine points apiece for the Panthers, who host Buhler in non-conference action on Tuesday night.
GAME NOTES — The Panthers were playing without senior point guard Matt Marshall, out with a knee problem. … The final part of the renovation project inside Panther Fieldhouse was recently completed. Three new tables for working media were installed behind the official scorer’s bench.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Liberal High School 47, Great Bend 39
LIBERAL (4-11, 1-3)
Aaron Green 0 1-4 1, Elmer Quintana 1 1-2 4, JJ Lewis 2 0-0 5, Blake Stout 2 0-0 6, William Ross 4 2-3 11, George Fitzgerald 0 0-0 0, Trenton Hammond 3 5-7 11, Britton Abbott 0 5-8 5, Michael Begley 2 0-0 4. Totals 14 14-24 47.
GREAT BEND (5-9, 2-2)
Jack Westhoff , Trey Ibarra 0 0-1 0, Chad Touslee 0 3-5 3, Brock Ibarra 0 0-0 0, Bryce Beck 3 0-2 7, Dillon Reiser 3 2-2 9, Ethan Henderson 3 5-5 11, Shade Wondra 0 0-0 0, Wyatt Bayless 4 1-2 9, Josh Lutz 0 0-0 0, Nick Warren 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 11-17 39.
Liberal 12 12 12 11 — 47
GBHS 6 8 6 19 — 39
Three-point goals — Liberal 5 (Stout 2, Quintana, Lewis, Ross); Great Bend 2 (Reiser, Beck). Total fouls — Great Bend 24, Liberal 20. Fouled out — Great Bend (Touslee); Liberal (Lewis).