Kingman won both ends of the twin bill against Pratt on Tuesday night

With the Kingman student section sporting headbands and signs that said "39-25" (the score in Kingman's football win over Pratt last fall), you had to think that this might be the game that motivated the Greenback basketball team to get over the hump and post their first win of the season.

For a time, that looked as though it might come true, but alas, in the end, PHS had their hearts broken on a buzzer beater and fell to the Eagles 40-38 on Tuesday night at Kingman.

The baskets were closed to both teams early on, neither getting much to fall in the first quarter. Pratt got buckets from Nate Kolm and Landen Studer and a three from Kaden Evert to take a 7-2 lead after the first 8 minutes.

PHS hit a few points in Q2, and Kingman's frustrations continued. Ducks, bunnies, cripples, floaters, jumpers, setshots, lay-ups, putbacks, free name a basketball shot, the Eagles missed it. With 3 minutes left in the half, the Frogs had their biggest lead of the night, 15-2.

However, as though someone flipped a switch, Kingman suddenly began finding the mark. They quickly whittled the lead back to 7 as Pratt's scoring pace did not accelerate to match Kingman's. A Studer 3-ball at the buzzer restored Pratt to a double digit lead, 20-10 at the half, and at the time seemed to have stifled the Kingman momentum.

However, the second half belonged to the Eagles. They began driving into the lane with purposeful aggression, and crashing the boards. They seemed a step quicker than Pratt getting to 50/50 balls. They slowly but inexorably chipped away at the Greenbacks' lead.

Heading to Q4, PHS was still ahead 31-25, but they could hear Kingman's footsteps. With 2:00 left, Kingman got the game tied at 35, then went ahead 37-35 at 1:35. Pratt turnovers on their next two possessions played right into Kingman's hands.

With a lead and the ball, Kingman went into the stall game. On the ensuing foul, Kingman converted just one attempt so Pratt's deficit was still just 3. With 11 seconds remaining, Kaden Evert brought the Greenback crowd to full throat by nailing a trifecta to knot the count at 38.

On Kingman's final possession, the ball found its way into the hands of Logan Buehler, who left his shot short from the elbow. If PHS grabs the rebound, the game goes to OT. However, and perhaps fittingly given what had transpired throughout the game, no one boxed Buehler out, he followed his own shot and it swished through at the buzzer to hand Kingman the 40-38 win.

It might have been the most painful loss in what has been a frustrating season so far for PHS. "This is a game we needed to win," said Pratt head coach Chris Battin. "We should have won."

Two things that kept PHS from winning were (1) getting beaten on the glass, especially allowing Kingman to get to the offensive boards too frequently; and (B) not opening up an insurmountable lead during the time when Kingman's shots were off the mark. Kingman scored only 2 points in the first 13 minutes of the game, but they were still a part of it as Pratt only had 15.

"There was a big momentum swing when they started scoring and we struggled to score," Coach Battin observed. "We kind of panicked and weren't as strong with the ball."

Kingman 2 8 15 15 40

Pratt       7 13 11 7 38

PHS scoring: Kaden Evert 11, Studer 7, Kolm 8, Schrag 2, Bates 2, Bolen 6, Shanline 2

Kingman came out on top in the girls game as well, 46-34. The Lady Eagles blew open what was a close game after one period (7-5 Kingman) with a 12-0 run to begin Q2. That 12 points was the exact margin of victory for the Eagles.

"We've struggled all season letting teams go on a run. That seems to be what beats us," PHS head coach Dustin Hildebrand mentioned. "The girls fight back, but we're not able to get all the way back up the hill."

Kingman's girls used efficient help-side defense and offensive rebounding to fashion a 23-10 halftime lead.

Pratt made an offensive adjustment in the 3rd quarter and got back into the game, outscoring Kingman 15-10 to trail just 33-25 heading to Q4. "We needed to get the ball to the corner and then attack the inside from there," Hildebrand explained.

Kaitlyn Rasmussen, Dani Staats and Allisan McGowan each hit 3-balls to begin Q4 as the Eagle defense retreated to cover their now-vulnerable inside. PHS cut the lead to 40-34 with 5:11 to play but Kingman responded by taking the air out of the ball and going into the 4 corners. The Eagles are talented and experienced enough that they did not panic. They handled the ball and sank their free throws and held on to win 46-34.

Kingman 7 16 10 13 46

Pratt 5 5 15 9 34

PHS scoring: Allisan McGowan 14, Hoover 2, Fincham 4, Wilson 2, Staats 5, Rasmussen 5, Maydew 2

The Greenback basketball teams wind up pre-holiday play on Thursday with games at Hoisington.