Hays High boys impress in season opener
HAYS, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Hays High boys’ basketball finished 17-6 and advanced to the Class 5A final four last season before the tournament was shut down from the coronavirus pandemic. HHS won its last eight contests and returned all but two players.
Hugoton boys went 17-5 with three losses by five points or fewer. The 3A Eagles averaged 67 points per contest and returned its top-four scorers. Surprisingly, especially for Hays High, neither squad was ranked in the top-10 of its respective classification by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association in the preseason poll released earlier this week.
On Thursday, the Indians displayed its impressive all-around game with a 77-55 season-opening home victory versus Hugoton in the 38th annual Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shoot-Out. The round robin tournament includes Wichita Life Prep and Thomas More Prep-Marian and continues Friday and Saturday. HHS delivered a 16-0 first quarter run.
Hays High enjoyed big games from its 6-foot-6 duo: junior Jace Linenberger and senior Dalyn Schwarz. HHS featured a size advantage, and Linenberger finished with 21 points.
“We did a great job early of playing sound and smart on defense,” coach Alex Hutchins said. “I thought we did a really good job early on offense against their man. I think our team did a good job of recognizing Jace having a bit of an advantage inside, and I thought Jace did an incredible job of getting out and running in transition, and so really pleased with the way we looked early.”
Schwarz added a career-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. Linenberger earned the hammer award as the team’s top offensive player. He tied his career high.
“We always knew he could score the ball,” senior point guard Jason Krannawitter said. “But like him being in different positions and situations, he knows how to work through. And defense especially, too. He plays way better defense.”
Krannawitter tallied eight and picked up the chain honor as the team’s best defensive player. Junior Carson Kieffer, among the state’s leaders in assists as a sophomore, tallied 14 points.
“The experience,” Krannawitter said. “We know how to play in like tough games, tough situations. We know the offense, know everything.”
For Hugoton, senior Haden Daharsh tallied 15 points. The game was played without fans, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the KSHSAA board’s recent ruling. Hays High used excellent ball movement, fast breaking and inside play to build an 18-2 lead with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Hays High collected the game’s first 13 rebounds. HHS led 60-36 late in the third quarter, before Hugoton went on 15-2 run. Hays High was up 62-51 with 4:19 remaining.
“First half, we came out strong,” Krannawitter said. “We played well, and then there was a lapse in the third quarter where we didn’t play our best, and then we cleaned it up at the end.”
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