By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cougars pull away for substate victory
sydney unruh
Great Bend Panther Sydney Unruh (15) drives fearlessly to the goal against Hutchinson High's Tina Robertson (50) in Thursday's non-league basketball game.


SALINA — At one point Tuesday, Salina South's girls had attempted 20 free throws to a pair by Great Bend. The Cougars built a 9-point lead on 18 free throws and put the game away with flawless offensive execution for a 51-35 substate basketball victory over the Panthers. Salina South (10-11) will play rival Salina Central (17-4) in Friday's championship game.

The lightning quick Cougars benefited from attacking the basket by converting 18 of 25 free throws against the Panthers, who had a challenge defending the drive. The officials were so accustomed to granting the Cougars two-shot fouls, Acacia Weis benefited from a phantom "shooting foul" to start the fourth quarter.

"It was tough. We wanted them to earn their points, but we put them at the line," said Great Bend coach Cindy Beck. "They did a good job attacking and we were a step slow defending."

The Panthers sliced the Cougars' lead to four points four times in the third quarter on scores by Candice Smith, Halle Latham, Taryn Warren and Sadie Spray, but the Cougars responded each time. The Panthers played solid defense except for putting the Cougars at the line. The Panthers converted 14 of 43 field goals and 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

"We didn't get over that 4-point hump," Beck said. "We rebounded the basketball well. We did some of the things we needed to win."

The Cougars built momentum when Kalysa Hamel flipped the ball to Kylie Arnold after falling to the floor. Hamel converted the 3-pointer for a 35-28 lead after three quarters. Acacia Weis hit two free throws and drilled a 3-pointer for a 40-28 lead. The Cougars outscored the Panthers 16-7 in the fourth quarter.

Salina South's Sydney Peterson scored 19 points and Liz Franco added 12 points. The Cougars outscored the Panthers 18-6 from the free throw line and 15-3 on 3-pointers.

Latham scored eight points and Warren added six points. Sparkplug Sydney Unruh went through a tough shooting night with 2 of 12 shooting for four points.

Beck enjoyed his first year coaching the Panthers.

"I had a great time with these girls," she said. "You hope you have girls who enjoy the game and play hard. These girls did that every day."

Great Bend's girls (7-13) have lost seven consecutive postseason basketball games. The Panthers placed fourth in the 2014 5A state tournament, losing 58-49 to Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel.

Beck had prepared her team to pull off a victory against the Cougars.

"I wasn't prepared for this," Beck said. "We were planning to play Friday in the championship."

Great Bend 10 8 10 7 — 35

Salina South 11 11 13 16 — 51

GREAT BEND (7-13)—Latham 3-6 1-2 8, Warren 3-5 0-0 6, Smith 2-7 0-0 4, Spray 2-6 0-0 4, Unruh 2-12 0-0 4, Harbaugh 1-5 1-2 3, Hall 1-2 1-2 3, Kaiser 0-0 2-2 2; Totals 14-43 6-10 35.

SALINA SOUTH (10-11)—Peterson 4-9 10-13 19, Franco 4-7 4-6 12, Arnold 3-6 2-3 8, Weis 2-4 2-4 8, Hamel 1-6 2-2 4, Janda 0-3 0-0 0, Herbel 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 14-36 18-25 51. 

3-pointers—GB 1-9 (Latham 1-3, Harbaugh 0-1, Smith 0-1, Unruh 0-4); SS 5-17 (Weis 2-2, Arnold 2-3, Peterson 1-4, Herbel 0-1, Janda 0-2, Hamel 0-5). Rebounds—GB 31 (Smith 8), SS 26 (Franco 6, Arnold 6). TO—GB 18, SS 11.