It wasn’t easy, but the Pratt High School boys’ basketball team found a way against Central Plains in the 3rd place game of the St. John Midwinter Classic on Saturday. In a game in which the lead never felt comfortable, the Greenbacks held off the scrappy Oilers 59-47.
Pratt led 12-7 after one stanza and 25-17 at the intermission. Central Plains would narrow the gap in the 3rd quarter, 37-31 Pratt, but PHS outscored the Oilers 22-16 in the deciding frame to claim the hard-fought victory.
The two teams were evenly matched except in one respect: long range shooting. Each team had 5 steals; Central Plains turned it over 12 times to 11 for Pratt. The Oilers outrebounded the Greenbacks, but only by one, 34-33. Pratt tallied a few more points from the charity stripe, making 19/28 to 15/29 for Central Plains.
The one statistic in which a decided advantage went to Pratt was in shots from behind the arc. PHS hit 8/20 while the Oilers were oh-fer from 3-point land. The Frogs’ advantage in 3-pointers more than offset the Oilers advantage in field goals (16/30 -8/23).
The long ball has become an important weapon in the Greenback arsenal in their recent surge, one in which they have won 4 out of their last 5 games after starting the season 0-7. Garret Smith hit 4 from long range, Spencer Sullivan made a pair, and Skylar Dean and Josh Shumway each chipped in one apiece.
“I was especially pleased with the defensive intensity of our second group. They came in with wonderful energy and intensity in the first period tonight,” said PHS head coach David Swank. “Defensively, we limited the Oilers from behind the arc as they finished 0-13 from downtown. Our zone was active and when we played man to man we really contested the passing lanes tonight.”
“Christian Kurz and Thomas Mayberry both finished with five assists capping off a strong tournament for both of them’” Swank continued. “Liam Kahmeyer is continuing to improve on both ends of the floor as he was very active around the rim.”
As the two players who were logging the most minutes, seniors Skylar Dean and Garret Smith were playing on tired legs. Both responded with great effort on both ends of the floor, and were rewarded by being named to the All-Tournament team.
For the 5th year in a row, Pratt has come home from the MWC with hardware. In addition to gaining them a third place trophy, the win also boosted the Greenbacks record to 4-8 on the season. Their next game will be January 25— a rematch with Macksville, who downed them in the MWC semi-finals. The game will be contested on the Mustangs home court, where reportedly Macksville hasn’t lost in over 5 years.
Page 2 of 2 - In other MWC action, Medicine Lodge beat Larned 61-54 for 7th place; Nickerson won the consolation bracket, downing Ness City 56-48; and host St. John won the title tilt, drilling county rival Macksville 70-47.
Pratt 12 13 12 22 59
Central 7 10 14 16 47
Garret Smith 14; Dean 7; Kurz 4; Mayberry 4; Dobbs 2; Shumway 3; Sullivan 9; Hageman 8; Ramos 2; Kahmeyer 6.