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Two-time 6A defending state champion Heights zooms to win
Lady T-Bird Classic
A glum Great Bend High School Lady Panthers bench look on during the second half of Friday night's semifinal loss to powerhouse Wichita Heights during the Lady T-Bird Classic Basketball Tournament at Shawnee Heights. - photo by Mack McClure Great Bend Tribune

TECUMSEH — To be certain, the Great Bend High School Lady Panthers won't face as stiff of competition all season as they encountered on Friday night.

Class 6A powerhouse and two-time defending state champion Wichita Heights flexed its muscle during semifinal action of the Lady T-Bird Classic Basketball Tournament at Shawnee Heights.

Katie Palmer led three Heights players in double figures with 17 points, as the Lady Falcons (9-2) coasted to a 24-8 halftime lead and topped out with a 57-33 victory. Jharian Bowen added 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and Jada Lynch scored 10.

"They've won the state championship in each of the last two seasons," Great Bend head coach Carrie Minton said. "We knew going in that we had a difficult task against a program that has had an enormous amount of success."

Morgan Harwood led Great Bend (7-4) with eight points and McKenna Mauler scored seven.

"I was very proud of our team that we played hard for 40 minutes," Minton said. "Even after we got down, our girls continued to play hard and I was pleased with that."

Heights held Great Bend scoreless during several stretches in the game, including two long droughts in the first half. The Lady Panthers missed 22 of their 25 shots and six of seven free throws in the opening 16 minutes.

Palmer, who scored 11 first-half points, opened the scoring in the second quarter with a driving layup, followed by Makayla Harding's basket along the baseline at the 5:22 mark, stretching Heights' lead to 14-3.

Kelsie Doll's 3-pointer with 4:59 remaining in the first half finally broke their first drought, carving the deficit to 14-6, the first points the Lady Panthers scored during a six-minute, 11-second stretch. Later, her layup with 1:05 left was their only other points of the second quarter.

Game notes — GBHS junior forward Hannah Hildebrand was held out of the classic because of a sprained ankle. She was wearing a boot on her right foot. ... The Lady Panthers travel to Hoisington on Tuesday for non-conference action.