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Panthers girls roll; boys battle hard
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Going up for a shot over a Buhler High School Crusader defender is Great Bend High School Panther Brayden Smith during the GBHS Winter Homecoming game Friday night at the GHBS gymnasium. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Buhler all-state guard Jessica Steffen earned Great Bend’s full attention.
The Panthers got Steffen in foul trouble as they steamed past Buhler 65-48. Yale University signee Steffen kept the Crusaders close with an 18-point first half.
But Steffen drew two offensive fouls, had four fouls at 5:51 mark of the third quarter and eventually fouled out in a scoreless second half.
“She’s a phenomenal player,” said Great Bend coach Carrie Minton. “Getting her in foul trouble was huge. We knew she’d drive hard off screens and our help-side would have to step up and take a charge.”
Great Bend (7-2) was paced by Carley Brack with 23 points and Lauren Welsch added 17 points.
“It was a big relief when we got her (Steffen) in foul trouble,” Brack said. ”Our goal was to keep pushing the ball up the court.”
Brack and Welsch attacked the basket and converted mid-range shots against Buhler’s shifting defenses.
“Carley had a great game with key steals,” Minton said. “We did a good job attacking the basket and kept the basketball moving. I was pleased that everyone stepped up and played tonight.”
The fast-paced basketball game featured pressing defenses and offenses, which kept the basketball in constant motion.
Buhler coach Jon McLean kept the Panthers guessing with a triangle-and- two defense on Brack and Welsch and a mix of man-to-man and zone defense.
“We tried several defenses, but didn’t play them consistent enough to slow them down,” McLean said. “They’ve got some good scorers.”
The Panthers mixed four 3-point shots, drives to the basket and seven free throws for a 39-28 halftime lead.  Brack and Welsch combined for 24 first-half points.
The Panthers’ role players contributed with Camryn Dunekack, Carly Dreiling and Kate Warren making plays. Brack scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Buhler (2-7) scored a season high 48 points. Ashton Schultz scored a season high 10 points. Morgan Rohr added seven points.
“We received a nice effort from all the girls,” McLean said. “We showed some improvement tonight, especially from girls who were stepping up on offense.”

GREAT BEND 61 – After getting outscored 21-3 on 3-pointers the first half, Buhler’s boys dialed up long range with four 3-pointers in the third quarter.
The Crusaders (7-2) outscored the Panthers 19-4 to close out the third period to erase a 41-34 Panther lead. Hunter Wiehl made a pair of 3-pointers and Noah Webster and Eric White also converted for a 53-45 lead after three periods. Webster ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer. The Crusaders ended the first half in similar style with back-to-back scores by Webster and Dalton Smyres.
Webster led Buhler with 19 points and Jace Williams added 17 points. The Crusaders made 10 free throws the second half.
“We made the extra pass that second half that we didn’t make that first half,” said Buhler coach Ryan Swanson. “That was a huge finish. Great Bend has some talented players and they play extremely hard. They really shot it well that first half. We knew it would be a challenge playing at their homecoming.”
The Panthers stunned the No. 3 ranked Class 4A-Division 1 Crusaders with a 33-32 halftime lead built on 7 of 10 shooting from 3-point range. Cody Crosby knocked down five consecutive 3-pointers and Jacob Murray converted 3 of 4.
Crosby finished with 21 points and Murray added 18 points. The Panthers outscored Buhler 36-15 from 3-point range.
The Panthers attacked the basket and kicked back for open 3-pointers. The Panthers shot 12 of 22 from long range and 7 of 30 from inside the stripe, a 23 percent average.
“I was super proud because the guys came to play tonight,” said Great Bend coach Chris Battin. “We moved the ball inside and outside. We played one of the better games against a great team we had on the ropes. We felt the positive energy from the start.”
The Crusaders outscored the Panthers 40-28 after halftime. The Panthers made 8 of 28 shots, 28 percent the second half.
“We didn’t value all our possessions the second half,” Battin said. “We had a quick trigger a couple of times and didn’t get those open looks we did the first half.”
Battin said the physical 6-foot-6 Williams gave the Crusaders a challenge inside.
“We had trouble finishing shots inside against Williams. We don’t see that type of size in practice,” Battin said.
Great Bend (3-6) will play Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel Thursday at the El Dorado Tournament.

Non league
Buhler 10 18 7 13 – 48
Great Bend 18 21 11 15 – 65
Buhler—Steffen 4-8 9-10 18; Schultz 4-4 2-4 10; Rohr 3-8 0-0 7; Reiss 2-5 0-0 5; Stutterheim 2-5 0-0 4; White 1-8 0-0 2; Cunday 1-2 0-0 2; Totals 17-40 11-14 48.
Great Bend—Brack 9-14 4-5 23; Welsch 7-12 2-4 17; Dunekack 3-5 1-1 8; Dreiling 2-10 4-5 8; Warren 2-4 0-0 4; Kottas 1-4 0-0 3; Burkhart 1-1 0-0 2; Ireland 0-3 0-0 0; Unruh 0-0 0-2 0; Totals 25-53 11-17 65.
3-point goals—Buhler 3-8 (Steffen 1-3, Reiss 1-3, Rohr 1-2), GB 4-23 (Brack 1-4, Dunekack 1-3, Welsch 1-4, Kottas 1-4, Ireland 0-2, Dreiling 0-6).

Non league
Buhler 13 19 21 19 – 72
Great Bend 19 14 12 16 – 61
Buhler— Webster 6-9 5-6 19; Williams 7-13 3-9 17; Smyres 4-8 0-1 8; Wiehl 3-5 0-0 8; Dylan Brown 3-5 2-3 8; Dalton Brown 0-4 3-4 3; White 1-2 0-0 3; Tipton 2-3 0-0 4; Wedel 0-3 1-2 1; Van Dyke 0-0 1-2 1; Totals 26-52 15-27 72.
Great Bend—Crosby 6-10 4-4 21; Murray 6-15 1-3 18; Ibarra 3-12 2-3 9; Ireland 2-3 2-2 7; Smith 1-7 0-0 2; Perry 1-2 0-0 2; Takota Esfeld 0-3 2-4 2; Totals 19-52 11-16 61.
3-point goals—Buhler 5-12 (Webster 2-2, Wiehl 2-3, White 1-1, Dylan Brown 0-1, Wedel 0-2, Dalton Brown 0-3), GB 12-22 (Crosby 5-6, Murray 5-8, Ireland 1-2, Ibarra 1-3, Esfeld 0-3).