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Panthers girls drop into seventh-place game
Sadie Spray shoots.jpg


LAWRENCE – Great Bend’s Sadie Spray was spectacular as usual with a game high 16 points and several steals in a hard-luck 46-40 loss to Topeka West at Friday’s Firebird Basketball Classic.

The Panthers played well enough to hang tight, but not well enough to claim a hard-fought victory. Great Bend made 15 of 43 field goals. But the Panthers missed a golden opportunity at the free throw line, converting 9 of 25 attempts for 36%.

Simply put, poor free throw shooting cost the Panthers a victory.

The Panthers’ pressure was effective in the late going, but they turned the ball over twice after forcing Topeka West mistakes. Jazynn Ford scored 12 points and Azaryah Duncan added nine points for the Chargers.

Great Bend coach Cindy Beck believed it a case of missed opportunities.

“We played tight at the offensive end,” Beck said. “We were uncomfortable. We had girls cutting to the lane, which was the right idea. But they’d help with three girls and we’d throw it to them. That’s not the look that we wanted. We need to see that.”

The Panthers held the advantage most of the first half. Spray, Paige Thexton, Emilee Hall and Makenzie Premer scored in the first quarter as the Panthers trailed 12-10.

Excellent passing keyed a second-quarter surge. Thexton passed to Hall. Premer found Spray. Thexton found Hall for a 16-12 lead. For the third time in three games, the Panthers committed a turnover and Ford scored the final basket for a 23-21 halftime lead.

“We played some zone defense and made a second quarter run,” Beck said. “But they got some put-backs off rebounds. We’ve got to have box-out position the whole game.”

As usual, Spray scored 10 second-half points to spark second-half play. Cassie Ellegood converted a 3-point play. Hall and Thexton each split a pair of free throws to keep the Panthers within 39-37. But Duncan drilled a 3-pointer and the Chargers converted four free throws in the final 2:19.

The Panthers (5-7) play winless Lawrence Free State (0-11) at 10;30 a.m. Saturday in the seventh-place game.

“We’re not in the game you want to be in,” Beck said. “We’ve got to show up and be ready to play. We’ve got to fight for everything we’ve get.”

Topeka West 12 11 12 11 – 46

Great Bend 10 11 10 9 – 40

TOPEKA WEST (3-9)—Ford 5-8 1-4 12, Gonzales 1-4 0-0 3, Brooks 2-6 1-2 5, McGlory 2-2 0-0 5, Alexander 1-7 0-0 2, Duncan 2-6 4-7 9, Hall 0-3 2-2 2, Clark 1-7 1-4 4, Bearman 1-4 2-2 4, Totals 15-46 11-21 46

GREAT BEND (5-7)—Spray 6-14 4-10 16, Hall 3-11 2-7 8, Premer 3-5 0-0 6, Ellegood 1-1 2-4 5, Thexton 1-3 1-2 3, Reimer 1-5 0-2 2, Feist 0-2 0-0 0, McCauley 0-2 0-0 0, Totals 15-43 9-25 40

3-pointers—TW 5-15 (McGlory 1-1, Ford 1-1, Gonzalez 1-3, Duncan 1-3, Clark 1-5, Alexander 0-2); GB 1-5 (Spray 1-2, Hall 0-1, Feist 0-2)