Facing Macksville in the opening round of the St. John Midwinter Classic—a team averaging 60+ points per game—Pratt High head coach David Swank was hoping to keep the game in the 40s or 50s, figuring that his Greenbacks— who were averaging in the upper 40s— would have a better chance in that kind of a game.
Part of that came to pass, as the Frogs defeated the Mustangs 64-43 Thursday night to get themselves into the winners bracket.
The Greenbacks had the Mustangs outnumbered. Although Macksville has some good athletes, they don’t have as many as does Pratt, a larger school. It especially hurt Macksville that one of the better Mustangs was home ill.
All 12 of Pratt’s players got minutes, and 9 of them scored. By way of contrast, only 3 players scored in the ballgame for Macksville— and some of the Mustang stalwarts were clearly winded by the 4th quarter, as they had been on the court virtually continuously.
It was apparent that the Pratt game-plan was to take away Macksville’s scorers, and that’s just what they did in the first half. The Mustangs could only manage 8 points in the first half against the Pratt defense, which often double-teamed the Mustang scorers while letting other players run scot-free. The tactic worked to perfection, as the players being left open missed almost all their shots, and the players who were being double-teamed were shut down and getting frustrated.
Meanwhile, Pratt was hotter than a pistol, shooting 53% for the night from the floor. They raced out to a 12-3 first quarter, and 32-8 halftime lead.
Macksville made some nice adjustments at halftime. Pratt’s crisp passing and hot shooting had decimated the Mustang zone in the first half. Opening Q3 in a man-to-man, the Mustangs looked good going on an 11-2 run to narrow the gap, then gradually closing even more to 37-26 at the 3:22 mark.
But then Pratt began to find the mismatches. Samson Kohman scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the last half of the 3rd quarter, as the 6’4 guard posed a huge match-up problem for the ’Stangs. Q3 ended with Pratt up 46-31.
The 4th quarter was just playing out the string and Pratt emerged victorious 64-43 as reserves for both teams got some playing time.
Pratt 12 20 14 18 64
Macks 3 5 22 13 43
Barnard 9, Sullivan 4, C. Kurz 8, Ruckle 7, Landry 2, Shumway 4, Samson Kohman 19, Kahmeyer 5, Peltier 4,
Advancing to the semi-finals, the Greenbacks next faced Central Plains, ranked #2 in 2A, who had earlier downed Ness City to move into the semis.
The Oilers put an end to the Greenbacks 4-game winning streak by taking a convincing 61-42 win over Pratt to put themselves in the championship game against host St. John.
Those teams are ranked #1 and #2 in 2A and it should be a good game. St. John gave Central Plains their only loss of the season so far in their earlier match-up this year.
Page 2 of 2 - The Greenbacks led the Oilers 17-11 after one period, but Central Plains began to find the range in the second quarter, getting the game tied at 20 at the 5:03 mark. From there, the Oilers outscored Pratt 10-7 to take a 30-27 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was disastrous for the Frogs, as it seemed like a lid went on their basket — but Central continued scoring. At the end of three periods it was 48-33 Oilers and Central Plains had a stranglehold on the momentum.
With the nice lead, Central took the air out of the ball a little bit in the 4th frame, but still managed to outscore Pratt 13-9 in the stanza with many of their points coming from the charity stripe. For Pratt, the two problems on the night were foul trouble and poor shooting.
Connecting on only 37% of their attempts from the floor on the night, the Frogs found it difficult to keep pace with Central Plains, who found themselves on the free throw line all night long as a result of 27 fouls being whistled against the Greenbacks.
With the loss, Pratt’s record evens back out at 5-5. They will play Saturday night for 3rd place in the St. John Midwinter Classic against Larned at 6:30 p.m.
Pratt 17 10 6 9 42
Central 11 19 18 13 61
Sullivan 7, Kahmeyer 5, Kurz 6, Shumway 1, Barnard 6, Ruckle 6, Samson Kohman 11