Halstead won the girls game 36-30 and the boys game 48-31.

Pratt High didn’t win either of their games with Halstead Tuesday night at the Swamp, but the Greenback girls and boys basketball teams each made some strides against a challenging opponent.

The Lady Dragons came into town undefeated. They left town still unbeaten, but the PHS girls gave them all they could handle in a 36-30 game.

Early on, it looked like Lady Green might be in for another long night. Halstead had built a 17-4 lead on the strength of their vaunted zone press. Starting three talented and rangy freshmen, Halstead’s girls look to have a bright future.

In the first period, they were able to force the Greenbacks into numerous turnovers and turn those into points. Also, PHS was missing good looks, and not making Halstead pay when they did break the press.

From that point to the end of the game, however, Pratt outscored Halstead 26-19. They got a handle on breaking Halstead’s press, and made a defensive adjustment of their own. Halstead only scored 6 points in Q2 and Q3 combined.

By taking away Halstead’s transition game and making them play offense in the half-court, PHS had removed the Dragon’s primary scoring weapon, and it allowed the Frogs to get back in the game. By intermission, Pratt had cut the deficit to 21-16.

In the third quarter, Lady Green got to within 2, and had several trips down the floor with a chance to tie or take the lead- but they couldn’t get a shot to fall. It was 25-20 heading to Q4.

Pratt’s defense was hustling and eager, but the scoring drought continued early in the frame, letting Halstead push the lead out to 30-20. Ironically, an Achilles heel for Lady Green this year has been getting into early foul trouble. With 3 minutes left and needing to foul to get the ball back, PHS still had 5 fouls to give. They had played aggressive defense without fouling, which will be a good sign going forward.

Lady Green kept trying till the very end, and was able to get the lid off the basket down the stretch and make a run at the Dragons. Alas, they ran out of time, and Halstead slipped out of town with the 36-30 win. Had a few more shots fallen for Pratt, the result might have been different.

Though disappointed with the defeat, PHS head coach Dustin Hildebrand was happy with his girls’ effort. “We competed hard,” he said. “We did some good things that we had been lacking in recent games. We rebounded better than we have been, and forced them into some turnovers. Halstead thrives on their transition game, so it was good to be able to reverse that pattern.”

“We fell behind early, but the girls battled back,” Hildebrand continued. “We were more active defensively as a team without reaching and slapping. We just didn’t shoot it well. You never like to lose, but there were some positives in this game.”

Pratt 8 8 4 10 30

Halst 19 2 4 11 36

PHS scoring: Dani Staats 11, Rasmussen 8, Maydew 7, McGowan 3, Wilson 1

The boys game was one in which the final score was not indicative of the way most of the contest had played out. The 7-1 Dragons won 48-31, but the game was closer than that for most of the way.

Kaden Evert popped three trifectas to stake PHS to a 9-6 lead halfway through the opening stanza. Pratt led 11-9 after the first 8 minutes. Halstead held a 20-19 advantage at the break in what was a see-saw battle.

Halstead likes to push the ball in transition, but the Greenbacks were doing a better job of getting back, and in general, just played better defense than they have been against a much taller team. (The Dragons start a 6’10 kid in the post, for example.) Unfortunately, after the initial flurry, Pratt again struggled to score. Not that they weren’t getting good shots, they just couldn’t make them.

Pratt had several poor possessions in a row to begin Q3, and by the end of the period Halstead had expanded their lead slightly to 30-25.

Working with a lead, the Dragons began to slow it down and work for good shots. Pratt still couldn’t buy a bucket in Q4, with the exception of 3s by Evert and Nate Kolm. PHS was still down just 8 points with 2:00 left, but with Halstead being deliberate on offense, the Frogs had to go to fouling.

Halstead made 10/12 FT down the stretch (19/27 for the game) to hold Pratt at arm’s length. In garbage time, PHS threw up quick shots, missed, and Halstead drained free throws repeatedly to balloon the lead to 48-31 when time expired.

PHS had played better in some respects, but too many turnovers (20) and not enough baskets (24% from the floor, 4/10 FT) doomed their effort. On the positive side, the Greenbacks only allowed 2 offensive rebounds to the much longer Dragons.

“We came out and shot well early, but then we missed too many 2-footers,” PHS head coach Chris Battin lamented. “We gotta make those shots. We have to convert free throws.”

“We have to continue to work and finish,” Battin added. “We have to raise our level.”

Pratt 11 8 6 6 31

Halst 9 11 10 18 48

PHS scoring: Kaden Evert 15, Bolen 4, Studer 3, Kolm 3, Shanline 3, Winsor 3

The Greenbacks travel to Larned Friday for a rematch.