Friday night, the Great Bend Lady Panthers shot the ball more than 80 times in a 73-41 win against Liberal. Tuesday, the squad put up a mere 56 shots from the floor but that was enough to get by Buhler 61-50. The Buhler boys had some shooting success of their own, picking up their second win of the year by downing the Panthers 48-39.
Great Bend girls 61, Buhler 50
Defense and tempo are the name of the game in Great Bend. The Lady Panthers (10-5 overall) forced 32 turnovers to keep the Lady Crusaders (8-7) at bay.
“We knew coming in that they probably had a little bit of an advantage on size,” said Panther Coach Carrie Minton. “We felt like we could overcome that with speed and quickness on defense, putting a lot of pressure on the ball, and forcing the turnovers on their part.”
The plan worked with eight turnovers in the opening quarter. Junior Tarynn Stueder had a hand in the first three turnovers and scored five quick points for the Panthers. Great Bend also heated up from the perimeter, using back-to-back threes from McKenna Mauler and Kaylie Doll to establish a 15-4 lead. Kylee Spray added another triple for an 18-8 lead. The Panthers hit 3-of-7 shots from behind the arc in the first quarter.
“Friday night, we struggled shooting the ball in the first half,” Minton said. “For the girls to come out and have the confidence to put those shots up was big. To get them to fall and give us a little bit of a lead was huge for us.”
Buhler senior Josie Williams carried her team in the first quarter with all four of the Crusader field goals. Buhler still trailed 18-11 after one quarter.
The Panther offense slowed to just eight points in the second quarter, including another set of threes from Doll and Mauler, but the defense remained relentless, forcing nine more turnovers.
“They didn’t do anything different than we thought they were going to do,” said Buhler Coach Brennan Torgerson. “When we weren’t in our offensive press structure, we struggled. They are aggressive. They can throw a lot of players in there and keep playing that pace. If we could get the ball past the first line of three, we got great shots. We just didn’t do a real good job of staying within our press offense.”
Freshman Jessica Steffan went 4-for-4 from the line and added a field goal in the second quarter, and junior post Taryn Torgerson added five points as the Crusaders closed the gap to 26-22 by halftime.
Torgerson started the second half with a bang, scoring five points in the first 95 seconds of the third quarter. Stueder took over from there with two steals in two minutes. The second takeaway resulted in a three-point play. Morgan Hardwood added a bucket to put the Panthers back ahead 36-27. Great Bend held a 44-39 margin heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Panther sophomore Regan Unrein hit a three and two free throws for a quick five points to open the final frame. Stueder added two free throws to cap a quick 7-0 run that all but secured the win for Great Bend.
Harwood finished with 13 points to pace the Panthers. Stueder added 12 points and four steals, and Mauler scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds. Unruh and Doll each contributed eight points.
Torgerson finished with a game-high 21 points, including a trio of three-pointers. Williams and Steffen each finished with 11 points.
"(Torgerson and Williams are) our returning all-league players,” Coach Torgerson said. “That’s where we have to get the basketball. Everything was so frantic and careless in the second half. We weren’t patient enough and weren’t disciplined enough to stay within our offense to get our posts more looks at the basket. You’ve got to credit Great Bend for that. They disrupted our offensive flow at times and we didn’t respond very well.”
Buhler boys 48, Great Bend 39
The Crusaders used a series of three-pointers in the first quarter to disrupt Great Bend’s zone defense. From there, Buhler controlled the game, picking up just win No. 2 on the year.
“I thought our execution of what we wanted done was extremely good early on there because we were able to move the ball effectively, sometimes inside, sometimes outside back to a position where we were getting some excellent shots,” said Buhler Coach Denny Wahlgren.
The offense began almost immediately with a set play that resulted in a Ryan Norquist three-pointer just six seconds into the game. Norquist added two more triples in the frame, and senor Bransyn Felty added a three as Buhler jumped out to an 18-12 lead behind 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 shooting from the outside.
“Their threes were daggers,” Great Bend Coach Chris Battin said. “Norquist got nine in the first quarter on us. It completely took us out of our game plan. It was over after that.”
Both offenses slowed in the second quarter with just a combined 10 points. The teams combined for just three field goals before Buhler senior Brandon Keeler scored from the paint with just four seconds to play in the half to give the Crusaders a 24-16 lead.
Panther sophomore Gabe Joiner opened the third quarter with a three, and Ethan Henderson added a basket to get Great Bend back within four at 25-21. Buhler junior Quentin Henricks halted that run with a three. The Panthers managed just one more field goal in the quarter and trailed 34-25 by the end of the frame.
Buhler continued a 4-0 spurt at the end of the third quarter with eight more points to cap a 12-2 run early in the fourth quarter. Felty and Henricks each scored through fouls at the end of that run. The Crusaders later missed three-straight front-ends at the free throw line, but hit 4-of-6 free throws in the final 1:14 after reaching the double-bonus.
The junior Norquist led the Crusaders (2-13) with 13 points. Freshman Jace Williams added 11 points, Keeler eight points, and Felty and Henricks each scored seven points.
Henderson led all players with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“We wanted to try and contain Henderson but he had a whale of a game,” Wahlgren said. “I congratulated the young man after the game because I felt he played harder than probably any player we’ve played against all year. He works extremely hard. We talk to our teams, it doesn’t matter if it’s this year’s team or last year’s, about playing hard. For some players, it’s very difficult from them to really totally comprehend that. They think they’re playing hard but they don’t realize there is another level they can physically force their bodies into playing a little hard. I think he epitomizes that level.
“Other than (Henderson), we were able to really contain a majority of their players. We weren’t doing a very good job in the first half. We were letting them penetrate in the middle a little more than we wanted. Overall, we really made them work to earn their shots.”
Joiner finished with five points for the Panthers (5-10). Bryce Beck and Wyatt Bayless each scored four points.