Pratt High lost both ends of a twin bill on the road to Hesston Tuesday night.
It wasn’t the start to the New Year the Pratt High basketball teams were looking for as the girls and boys were both beaten on the road by Hesston Tuesday night. Lady Green fell 50-40 while the Swathers dropped Pratt’s boys 56-40.
It was known going in that the 5-1 3rd-ranked in 3A Lady Swathers would be a challenge for Pratt’s girls. For much of the game, the Greenbacks went toe-to-toe with Hesston, but a slow start to the game again put the PHS girls in a hole from which they were unable to escape.
The first half saw PHS struggle to score as the Swathers employed some pressure defense that yielded several Pratt turnovers. Lady Green wasn’t having success getting the ball into the paint even when they succeeded against the press as all 12 of their first half points came on four 3-pointers, one each by Madalynn Wilson and Dani Staats and two by Allisan McGowan.
Meanwhile, PHS again let themselves get in early foul trouble and Hesston got to the charity stripe in the first quarter. They were 8/12 on FT in the first half which was a big portion of their 24-12 halftime lead.
Pratt came back from the halftime locker room a different ball club. It was they who drove the ball into the lane, earning for themselves easier buckets, free throws and kick-out openings. Point guard Dani Staats scored Pratt’s first 6 points of Q3, all resulting from attacking the lane. McGowan and Jenna Fincham each hit a pair of freebies and forward Rheagan Hoover got open underneath for a bucket.
“At halftime, we talked about attacking more aggressively,” PHS head coach Dustin Hildebrand explained. “That really opened things up.”
“In the first half, we were timid,” Hildebrand continued. “At times, we got some decent looks from outside, but overall we were just being too passive. We weren’t being strong and aggressive with the ball and we lost turnovers as a result. I told the girls if we’re going to turn it over anyway being passive, let’s try to do something more positive with it the second half. The kids did a good job making that adjustment.”
In the third frame, Hesston was reduced to long range shooting, making just three trifectas. Pratt had closed the gap to 33-24 but a Swather putback at the buzzer put them back up by 11.
Pratt’s offense really opened up in Q4, Lady Green striking from both inside and outside. McGowan had two 3s and three free throws; and Hoover, Staats and Kierson Maydew each tallied in close.
However, Hesston kept pace, in large part due to second chance points resulting from crashing the offensive glass. The game ended with Hesston up 50-40. But PHS had outscored them in the second half. Once again, however, the Frogs had gotten behind too far with a sluggish first half and were unable to fully recover.
Pratt 6 6 12 16 40
Hesston 11 13 11 15 50
PHS scoring (unofficial): Allisan McGowan 17, Dani Staats 11, Maydew 2, Fincham 2, Hoover 4, Wilson 3
Going into the boys game, Pratt head coach Chris Battin wanted his Greenbacks to keep Hesston’s transition offense in check and have good offensive possessions themselves. For about 10 minutes of game time, that plan was working well.
The score was knotted at 10 after the first period. In Q2, a Nate Kolm basket put PHS ahead 14-12 at 6:00. That would be Pratt’s last lead, unfortunately. To that point, PHS had enjoyed balanced scoring- Zach Shanline, Landen Studer, Brett Winsor, Nate Kolm and Jarrett Bates each notching 2-4 points.
But Hesston put together an 11-2 run over the next stretch of minutes and before the Greenbacks could get the ship righted, the Swathers had raced out to a 29-20 halftime lead. Three consecutive turnovers had resulted in Hesston points, which Pratt could ill afford.
PHS’ offense has scuffled at times this season, as evidenced by a disastrous 6-point 3rd quarter. A pair of buckets by Bates and one by Grant Bolen were all the Frogs could muster. Meanwhile, Hesston was enjoying a 19-point frame, and after three quarters the Swathers were up 48-26.
PHS did put up 14 pts in Q4 to only 8 for Hesston, who were satisfied to run clock and get some reps for their reserves down the stretch. But it was too little, too late for the Greenbacks and Hesston came away victorious 56-40.
“I thought we handled their press well for the most part,” Coach Battin said, “but when we made mistakes, they came in bunches. When you’re a team that struggles to score and you give up easy baskets, that’s a recipe for disaster. It puts you behind and then you’re trying to play catch-up.”
“We played well at times, but two spurts buried us,” Battin concluded.
Also of concern were the back-to-back 19-point quarters allowed by the Frog defense, as an offensively challenged team can ill-afford to be inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball.
Pratt 10 10 6 14 40
Hesston 10 19 19 8 56
PHS scoring (unofficial): Nate Kolm 12, Jarrett Bates 10, Studer 6, Shanline 5, Winsor 5, Bolen 2
The Greenback hoopsters will get some bus time Friday as they continue the season with a long trip to Altamont/Labette County.