The 2011-2012 basketball season kicked off for several teams Thursday at the 29th Annual Hays City Shootout. The Great Bend boys took a step toward another tournament title game with a 44-36 win over Newton. The Lady Railers showed why they are the reigning Hays City champions and a top team in Class 5A with a 76-26 thrashing of Great Bend.
In boys’ action, the Panthers looked to be running away with things early in the second half. Already ahead 21-12 at the break, Ethan Henderson drained a three-pointer early in the third quarter to give his side a 24-12 lead. The Railers did not go away. After putting up just 14 shots in the first half, nine of which came from outside the arc, Newton was finally able to put together a run. Jenson Kingsley started things off with a putback, then his steal kickstarted a series of Railer baskets. Austin Krogmeier scored six points and had two steals late in the quarter to get Newton back in contention at 27-24.
“We got up 12 and they picked up their intensity where we needed to pick up our intensity,” said Great Bend coach Chris Battin. “That’s hats off to their coach because he’s a good coach and got them fired up. I thought we relaxed too much. We withstood the run and ended up winning.”
“They understand how they’ve been coached,” Newton coach Don Cameron said. “The first half was not the way they’ve been coached.”
Henderson hit another three in the fourth quarter, and Roderick Frise’s basket gave Great Bend a 32-24 lead with 6:40 to play. Newton would get within four points at 35-31, but could not take advantage of the bonus at the free throw line, hitting only 5-of-11 free throws at one point. Bryce Beck’s jumper with 2:50 to play was the beginning of the end for the Railers, who could never whittle the lead back down.
The Panthers outscored Newton 12-5 in the first quarter behind solid defensive play and hustle. Great Bend also out-rebounded the Railers 28-14 on the day.
“I thought all-around our young kids stepped up,” Battin said. “They played extremely hard. We had some guys really going after rebounds. We had guys diving on the floor. For not having much experience, I thought defensively we played really well. Offensively, we maybe have to value the basketball more. We didn’t do that very we’ll get there.”
The Panthers also executed well early on, finishing the first half 9-of-19 from the floor. Newton converted only 4-of-14 tries.
“We were very tentative,” said Cameron. “We rushed our offense, then we turned it over. You rush your shots, take bad shots, or turn it over, you don’t give yourself much of a chance.”
Marshall led all scorers with 10 points to lead the Panthers. Henderson hit two of his three tries from outside to finish with eight points. Sophomore Bryce Beck also scored eight points. Frise finished with five points and a game-high eight boards. Gabe Joiner added five points and six rebounds.
Kingsley led the Railers with nine points. Krogmeier finished with eight points and three rebounds, and Grant Walker scored six points. Shelby Grosch had a team-high four rebounds to go along with three points.
Newton girls 76, Great Bend 26
The No. 4 Lady Railers are used to winning. The school won the state title in 2006, and has been back to the state tournament four times in eight years. High expecations came to fruition Thursday as Newton rattled off 35 unanswered points to start the game. In the end, the Lady Railers fell just shy of the tournament’s best team scoring performance of all-time (82 points by Pampa in 1990), and the biggest margin of victory (Pampa over Russell by 53 points in 1988).
“I think this is the most athletic team I’ve had since the state title team,” said Newton coach Randy Jordan. “We’re not as skilled in a couple of positions as we were with the state title team yet, and I think we’ll get there. We’re not quite as deep. Tonight, we were trying to get some younger girls minutes so, hopefully by February, we’re going to be deep.”
The Railers dominated both ends of the floor early on. Five-foot-ten senior Kendra Scott did most of the damage early on, grabbing rebounds, making baskets, and getting fouled. Scott scored 11 points in the first three minutes of play. Junior teammate Kelsi Langley was also effective, scoring eight of her game-high 26 points in the first quarter.
Great Bend’s youth showed early on as the Lady Panthers struggled to find the bottom of the net. Newton led 23-0 after one quarter, and held a 35-0 lead with 5:07 to play in the first half before senior Olivia Basye sunk a three-pointer for Great Bend.
“I knew we needed to get an early shot to go down,” said Panther coach Jason Tatkenhorst. “We had a couple of nice jumpers from the right girls that we want to shoot the ball. We got our couple of shots to shoot and they didn’t go in. The girls started getting antsy and wondering if we were going to score. That’s what inexperienced girls do.”
The Railers continued to put on a show with defense and fast-break points. Maddie Pendry scored five straight points late in the half, and Newton led 43-7 at the break.
“That was our goal starting in the summer when we started having workouts and playing in tournaments,” Jordan said. “I knew this would be an athletic group, so the two things I told them we would really work a lot on is getting out in transition and the full-court run-and-jump. In my opinion, when you’ve got athletes like that, I would be a doing them a disservice if we didn’t do that.”
Basye continued to connect from outside the arc for Great Bend. The senior hit four of her first five shots, scoring nine of the first 10 Lady Panther points. Despite limited playing time in the second half, she finished with a team-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the outside.
Great Bend picked up the play inside, winning the rebound battle 11-5 in the second half.
Sophomore Morgan Harwood finished with six points and three rebounds. Sophomore Hannah Hildebrand added three points and a team-high four boards.
Four Lady Railer players finished in double-figures, led by Langley’s 26 points. Pendry added 16 points, and Emily Hiebert finished with 10 points. Scott scored all of her 11 points in the first three minutes and led Newton with eight rebounds.
The Lady Railers are on track to reach their third straight Hays City title game. The Lady Panthers will not get that chance, but are ready to get back on the court.
“We play 19 more games, and this is just one,” said Tatkenhorst. “If we lost by one or 50, it’s still going to be one loss. We’ve got to wake up tomorrow morning and see who we play and get after it then.”