Suffocating pressure leads Hutchinson to win over Buhler
The Hutchinson High School girls basketball team used suffocating pressure to force turnovers and score transition baskets against Buhler Friday night at the Salthawk Activity Center.
In the blink of an eye, the Salthawks had forced five turnovers and led 9-0. Hutchinson never let up, and opened the season with a 49-28 win.
“I thought we did some really good things tonight,” Hutchinson head coach Conor Reilly said. “We pressured the ball, came ready to play, and did a really good job.”
Hutchinson, now 1-0, graduated its top three scorers from last year in Gabbie Posch, Tina Robertson, and Mekenzie Hefley. On Friday, senior Ziya Simms and junior Harlie Wilson stepped up offensively with 16 and 15 points.
“I think both of those girls knew coming into the season we were going to ask a lot of them,” Reilly said. “Tonight, they stepped up to the challenge, and they do that every day in practice with their leadership.”
Buhler drops to 0-2 after tough games at Nickerson and Hutchinson. Early on, the Crusaders had no answer for the Hutchinson full-court press.
“Turnovers are killing us,” Buhler head coach Sierra Michelstetter said. “We’re telegraphing our passes, and we need to make smart choices and read the defense better.”
After a 9-0 start from the Salthawks, Buhler’s Lauren Specht put the Crusaders on the board with a bucket inside at the at the 6:07 mark.
After Alex Hutton connected on a pair of free throws, Buhler cut the lead to five. However, the Salthawks responded with a 5-0 run, including a buzzer-beating jumper from Wilson, to take a 16-6 lead into the second quarter.
The second quarter completely belonged to Hutchinson.
The Salthawks owned a 12-3 advantage and held the Crusaders without a field goal in the quarter. Specht made two free throws and Mallory Hanen added another, but that was all the scoring Buhler mustered in the second quarter.
With a 28-9 lead, Hutchinson opened the second half on an 8-2 run. Afterward, Buhler began to find its rhythm a bit better.
The Crusaders scored 13 points in the third - the only quarter which saw Buhler reach double digits.
“Our momentum came in the third quarter, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” Michelstetter said. “I saw a lot of good things when we had the momentum; I saw a team come together.”
Hutchinson continued to apply pressure in the fourth. The Salthawks won the final eight minutes by an 11-6 margin.
“It was good to see some younger girls step up and play well tonight,” Reilly said. “For a lot of girls, tonight was their first taste of varsity action, and I thought they played really well tonight.”
The Salthawks open AVCTL DI play on Tuesday against 0-3 Newton. The Railers, who are on their fourth coach in four years, have played a difficult schedule so far including McPherson, Dodge City, and Wichita North.
“They have a different coach so it’ll be interesting to see what they run against us,” Reilly said. “Hopefully we can run and gun against them on Tuesday.”
Buhler begins AVCTL DIII play on Tuesday as the Crusaders travel to Circle.