The Hays High Indian’s boys basketball team won six games last year….that’s right six. This year they celebrate as sub-state champions and are heading to Topeka for the 5A State Tournament after beating Liberal 73-64 on Saturday night.
Hays never trailed in the game and the game was never tied.
Derek Bixenman hit a three to start the game and Hays led 11-2, in part to four consecutive turnovers by Liberal to start the game. Leading by 11 late in the first quarter, Liberal’s Blake Stout canned a left corner three at the end of the first quarter bringing the score to 16-8.
The Indians pushed the lead to 12 in the second quarter but a 8-0 J.J. Lewis run brought Liberal within four at 21-17. Hays responded with a 12-5 run capped with a Lane Clark layup to lad 33-22. But William Ross banked a three pointer to beat the half time buzzer.
Hays once again pushed the lead to to 12 in the third quarter, but Liberal stormed back with a 10-0 run getting within two at 43-41. That would the closes the Redskins would get all night. Hays pushed the lead up to 9 before Lewis got an offensive rebound and scored with one second left in the third quarter cutting the lead to 51-44.
Each team would go on small runs in the fourth quarter, Liberal got with in five at 55-50 before the Indians scored a Brady Werth free throw and then four points on one possession to go up 60-50 with 5:00 remaining.
Liberal then scored six points in the next 55 seconds to get within four, but couldn’t get any closer.
Hays used a 9-0 run to go up 13 points and hit just enough free throws down the stretch to preserve the 73-64 win.
Hays shot 59% (26-44) from the field and 4-14 on threes. Liberal was 40% (19-47) and made 9 of 21 three pointers including four in a row at one point.
Each team made 15 free throws, Hays on 28 attempts – Liberal on 29 attempts.
Just 14 turnovers on the night for Hays High and 21 for Liberal.
Hays put four in double figures. Adam Deterding and Lane Clark scored 16 each. Derek Bixenman had 15 and Brady Werth scored 12.
Liberal was led by JJ Lewis with 22. William Ross made five three pointers on his way to 18. Blake Stout scored 12.
Hays is now 14-7 on the year. Liberal finishes the year 7-14. It was the third win for Hays versus Liberal.
It is the first trip to the state tournament since 2003 for the Indians. Liberal qualified last year.
Hays will play Thursday in Topeka.