After playing three games in three days last week in the season-opening Hays City Shoot-Out, the Great Bend High School varsity basketball teams play back-to-back games against Class 6A schools, starting tonight and finishing up late Saturday afternoon.
Great Bend plays Junction City tonight, and then takes on Manhattan on Saturday afternoon. The Lady Panthers tip off against Junction City at 6, with the Panthers’ game set for around 7:45. On Saturday, the GBHS girls play Manhattan at 1:30, followed by the Panthers taking on the Indians at 3:15.
For head coach Chris Battin and his 5A Panthers, it will be a trend of resting his players early and often on Friday night because of the quick turnaround the next day.
“We’re planning on playing the eight or nine that we have been playing, but I think it’s going to play an important role in maybe getting people rest early,” Battin said, “just to not get into the oxygen tank too early.
“Coming off three games in three days and now we have two games … it’s something that we’re going to have to keep an eye on in making sure we keep fresh bodies on the floor.”
The Panthers finished with a 1-2 record at Hays last weekend, losing to 4A De Soto on Thursday, 44-28, and then getting nipped by 3A Riley County, 50-49, on Saturday in a consolation winners’ bracket game. In between, they hammered 3A Thomas More Prep Marian on Friday, 53-27.
“I think we had some really good moments at the Hays City Shoot-Out,” Battin said, “and I felt like we had some moments where we weren’t just totally in tune in what we wanted to do.
“Those are some things we’ve had to work on.”
Starting tonight, the big-class competition steps to the forefront.
“The competition is definitely going to increase,” Battin said. “Junction City is really athletic. They do a lot of good things defensively and we’ve got to be ready for that.
“Manhattan’s always solid. We’ve seen them over the past couple years. Coach (Tim) Brooks does a heckuva job with them, so the competition is definitely going to be good and we’ve got to be ready to go.”
In the Blue Jays, Battin’s team will be taking on a Junction team that lost 62-60 to Lawrence in overtime on Tuesday.
“They have average height,” Battin said of Junction City. “I think they’ve got a couple kids that are 6-foot-4, but on film they look long. They’re just kind of long, slender kids with long arms and I think they’re height is going to be misrepresented.
“We’re definitely going to have to take care of the basketball because of their height. I think they’re real deceptive, to be honest with you, just by watching them on film.”
Manhattan (1-1) is coming off an easy 65-42 triumph over Word of Life. In their season opener last week, the Indians lost 78-67 to Derby, ranked No. 7 in the 6A Kansas Basketball Coaches Association initial poll.
Against Derby, Jacob Holloway nailed six 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points for MHS.
“Manhattan doesn’t look as big as it did in the past, but they’re a good basketball team,” Battin said. “They have some football-looking guys that are thick, and they look like they can do some damage in there.”
Under first-year head coach Carrie Minton, the Lady Panthers (2-1) are already one win shy of last year’s victory total.
Minton ran several players in-and-out of the lineup during a 44-29 season-opening loss to De Soto on Thursday at the shoot-out in Hays, followed by registering a 58-37 win over TMP on Friday and a 54-53 triumph over Riley County in a consolation winners’ bracket game.
The Lady Panthers pulled out the win over Riley County after Regan Unruh, who scored a team-high 14 points, converted a pair of free throws with 6.3 seconds remaining.
GBHS takes on a Junction City Lady Jays team that beat Lawrence 60-56 earlier in the week.
Great Bend at Junction City: Girls varsity & boys JV, 6; Boys varsity & JV girls, 7:45.
Great Bend at Manhattan: Girls varsity & boys JV, 1:30 p.m.; Boys varsity and JV girls, 3:15.