From the stifling defense to the multiple scoring opportunities on defense, everything went Great Bend High School’s way as the Lady Panthers challenged Hays on Friday night.
GBHS, utilizing a massive first-half run, came away with a 62-27 win, finishing a sweep of Western Athletic Conference teams to end the regular season 18-2 and 8-0 in the WAC.
“We came out in the first half and knew that Hays was most likely going to come out in a zone,” GBHS head coach Carrie Minton said. “We told the girls to be ready to move the ball around. Be ready to take the shots on the outside which was lead to opening things up in the middle.
“Our guards did a great job knocking down those shots. We had six 3s in the first half, so it’s nice to know that our girls can come out and have the confidence after having a not-so-good shooting performance the other night.”
On merit of its record, Great Bend will host a Class 5A sub-state tournament first-round game as the No. 1 seed on Thursday. The Lady Panthers have another matchup against Hays, who are 0-20.
“Last Friday at Dodge City was when we locked in that first seed,” Minton said, “so we’ve known for a couple of games, but again, it’s just one thing at a time, and we wanted to make sure we locked in our WAC championship.
“When I say WAC championship, I mean an undefeated WAC championship. That was the goal that we wanted, so that was the task at hand.”
It was Minton’s first WAC championship as a basketball coach, with Garden City taking the title last season.
“The girls worked hard all year,” Minton said. “That was the thing coming back from last year. We thought we really had some unfinished business and we didn’t put our best foot forward in a couple of those games.
“It was nice to see the girls go hard game-in and game-out. They took care of that in the conference part of the season.”
Hays never had a handle on the game as the Lady Panthers pushed it to 20-6 after one quarter.
Things opened up even further in the second quarter, as it continued what would end up as a 33-0 run that spanned two quarters and over eight minutes.
During the span, Great Bend knocked down six 3-pointers, opening things up in the middle for the Lady Panthers post players.
“I thought we did a good job, once we got into things, rebounding the ball,” Minton said. “I think we had a lot of second-chance points that we really haven’t had in the last few games.”
Morgan Harwood finished with a team-leading 15 points, scoring 11 in the first half.
Hannah Hildebrand added 10 points, eight in the first half.
Great Bend cleared its bench in the fourth quarter, the only period that Hays outscored the Lady Panthers, 11-9.
The Lady Panthers forced 27 turnovers in the game.
Between games, Allen Keiswetter and Celia Crane LaBranche were inducted into the Great Bend Hall of Fame.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Western Athletic Conference
At Great Bend
Great Bend 62, Hays 27
Mattison Schlaefli 2 0-2 5, Haley George 1 0-0 2, Talyn Kleweno 1 0-0 3, Summer Smith 1 1-3 3, Kaylie Schoendaller 1 1-4 3, Audra Schmeidler 4 0-5 8, Talor Groen Younger 1 1-2 3. Totals 11 3-16 27.
Kacee Kasselman 1 1-3 3, Lauren Welsch 0 5-6 5, Hannah Hildebrand 5 0-0 10, Kelsie Doll 2 0-0 6, Kylee Spray 1 0-2 3, Mariah Stein 1 0-0 2, Kaylie Doll 2 0-0 5, McKenna Mauler 1 0-0 3, Tarynn Stueder 2 1-2 6, Morgan Harwood 5 5-8 15, Madison Unruh 2 0-0 4. Totals 22 12-21 62.
Hays 6 4 6 11 — 27
Great Bend 20 24 9 9 — 62
Three-point goals — Hays 2 (Schlaefli, Kleweno); Great Bend 6 (Ke. Doll 2, Spray, Ka. Doll, M. Mauler, Stueder).