HUTCHINSON — Great Bend’s first true road basketball game at Hutchinson High will continue to test the Panthers’ patience. The Panthers start the season with two home games in their first 12 outings.
Hutchinson’s boys and girls both prefer a patient, low-possession style of basketball, which offers the prospect of a pair of competitive games.
Great Bend (1-2) and Hutchinson (1-2) appear evenly matched with both programs struggling for success in recent years. Both teams finished last in their respective conferences. The Salthawks are coming off a 2-19 campaign while Great Bend followed a 2-19 record with a 4-17 record last year.
The Panthers have exhibited a competitive spirit in a 1-2 start highlighted by a double-overtime victory over Garden City. Kody Crosby (16 ppg), Konner Ireland (10 ppg) and Brayden Smith (10 ppg) provide the Panthers with three reliable scorers.
Hutchinson’s sharpshooter is Kolby Holmberg, who scored 32 points in a 61-49 victory over Salina South. Hutchinson’s two other threats are Tre Jones and De’Andre Baugh, who scored in double figures against Salina Central.
The Panthers will open with halfcourt man-to-man with hard-working Konner Ireland drawing the initial assignment on Holmberg.
“Konner has the quickness and strength to work through screens,” said Great Bend coach Tim Brooks. “What makes Holmberg a tough cover is he scores off transition and with offensive rebounds. We’ll have to do a solid job on their other two scorers Jones and Baugh. Our defense has been good so far.”
Brooks got to know Hutchinson High coach Chad Wintz when he worked in Dodge City.
“They will exhaust every opportunity to work for good shots and Holmberg can shoot it really well,” Brooks said. “They’ll play a tough halfcourt man-to-man defense.
The Panthers’ offensive efficiency is a work in progress after a late start because of the Class 5A football playoffs. Better rebounding is their other emphasis.
“We’ve gotten better offensively in practice this week,” Brooks said.
Hutchinson (2-1) depends on center Kasey Hazell inside, the type of power player that’s given the Panthers trouble this season. Brooke Ackley scored 16 points in a 30-22 victory over Salina South. The Salt Hawks prefer a low-scoring, low-possession type of game.
Great Bend will push a much-faster pace. Carley Brack (17 ppg) and Carly Dreiling (11 ppg) will anchor a faster style that the Panthers prefer. The team that dictates its style of play will gain a defensive advantage.
PANTHER BOYS STARTERS
Kody Crosby, 6-6, sr. 16 ppg
Konner Ireland, 5-9, sr. 10 ppg
Brayden Smith, 6-4, sr. 10 ppg
Jacob Murray, 6-0, sr. 3 ppg
Logan Perry, 6-2, sr. 5 ppg
PANTHER GIRLS STARTERS
Carley Brack, 5-8, jr. 17 ppg
Carly Dreiling, 5-7, sr. 11 ppg
Camrun Dunekack, 5-10, jr. 6 ppg
Keely Ireland, 5-2, sr. 2 ppg
Brooklyn Burkhart, 5-10, sr. 2 ppg