By JAYCEE DALE
Coming off a solid season a year ago that ended prematurely in the second round of the Class 5A state tournament, the Hays High School boys’ basketball team was ready to take care of some unfinished business.
That was evident Thursday night in the opening game of the Gerald Mitchell Hays City Shootout at the HHS gym. The Indians dominated Hugoton, winning 77-55.
Hays High (1-0) came out with an 18-2 run over the Eagles thanks to a strong defensive effort stopping any type of offense Hugoton tried to run. The Indians went on to lead 22-5 after the first quarter.
Despite facing a large deficit, the Eagles tried to make things respectable in the second quarter. But HHS eventually led 42-19 at halftime.
The margin remained similar in the third quarter, with Hays High leading 60-39 entering the final eight minutes of play.
But Hays High struggled some in the final period and allowed the Eagles to make a small comeback — getting within 11 of the Indians.
The Indian defense, thanks to two quick steals and four fastbreak points, stopped any momentum Hugoton had and propelled the Indians to the 22-point victory.
Jace Linenberger led HHS with 21 points, a career-high, and Dalyn Schwartz finished with 20. He also had 13 rebounds. Carson Kieffer chipped in 14 points.
Hays High will host Life Prep Academy at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the HHS gym for a second-round game.