Area High School Basketball Preview: Greenback girls looking to win more games this year

Howie Hansen
Pratt Tribune
Dustin Hildebrand has been the Pratt High School girls basketball team coach since 2017. He is predicting an improved year for his team as they look to guard play for leadership.

Pratt’s High School girl’s basketball team will improve steadily during the 2021-22 season, head coach Dustin Hildebrand predicted during a preseason interview after school Friday.

“We should really improve when our junior post player Marleigh Bates returns from foot surgery, but likely not until January,” the fifth-year coach said.

The injury bug also took a large bite out of the Greenbacks in their opener last season, when elite junior guard Lexi Walker suffered a knee injury which kept her out of the lineup for nearly two months.

“At times last season, we started two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior – and our lack of size just killed us,” Hildebrand said of the hard-working Greenbacks, who finished 5-16 overall and eighth in the 10-team Central Kansas League.

Pratt begins practice Monday afternoon in preparation for a Dec. 3 season and home opener against Larned.

Sharpshooting junior guard Gabby Gatlin, who averaged just under 10 points per game when Walker was out of the lineup last season, is also back to lead a mostly guard-sized, tenacious Pratt group. 

Joining Walker and Gatlin as probable starters are sophomore guards Corrine Donnenwerth and Jaycie Theis.

The Greenbacks must identify one additional starter and key reserves during preseason workouts.

“We progressed throughout last season, and it carried over for the girls in the summer league and in individual workouts leading up to the start of practices,” said Hildebrand. “They’re a good group, who aren’t afraid to work hard and get after it. If we continue to learn and improve every day, every game, then the wins will come. They are ready to go and want to get better, which makes me excited.”

Pratt will face Central Kansas League favorite Nickerson twice during the regular season, including at home on Dec. 17.

 “With more depth, we hope to play an up-and-down game and continue to mix things up defensively this season,” Hildebrand said. "Our goal is to win more games and move up in the conference standings."   

Hildebrand joined the Greenback brigade in 2017 after coaching both basketball and soccer for 14 years at Buhler. He is a Bethany College alum.

2021-22 Pratt Girls Basketball Schedule  

Dec. 3 – Larned, 6 p.m.  

Dec. 6 – at Huchinson Trinity, 6 p.m.  

Dec. 7 – Chaparral, 6p.m.  

Dec. 11 – at Cheney Tournament, TBA  

Dec. 14 – at Russell, 6 p.m.  

Dec. 17 – Nickerson, 6 p.m.  

Jan. 4 – Hayes, 6 p.m.  

Jan. 7 – Haven, 6 p.m.  

Jan. 11 – Lyons, 6 p.m.  

Jan. 14 – at Larned, 6 p.m.  

Jan. 17 – at Hoisington Tournament, TBA  

Feb. 1 – Hesston, 7:30 p.m.  

Feb. 4 – at Hillsboro, 6 p.m.  

Feb. 8 – at Halstead, 6 p.m.  

Feb. 11 – Hoisington, 6 p.m.  

Feb. 15 – Haven, 6 p.m.  

Feb. 18 – at Nickerson, 6 p.m.  

Feb. 22 – Smoky Valley, 6 p.m.  

Mar. 1 – Sub-State, TBA  

Mar. 4 – Sub-State, TBA  

Mar. 9, 11, 12, State, TBA 

Note: Home games at Pratt High School are listed in boldface.