By Jared Janzen
HALSTEAD—The Halstead girls’ basketball team will participate in a highly competitive tournament hosted by Haven, next week. This is a switch from the mid-season Berean Tournament that Halstead has played at in recent years.
“We really enjoyed the Berean Tournament, but the Haven Tournament has multiple state-caliber teams in it right now, and we were looking to compete with more of those teams and strengthen our schedule,” head coach Derek Schutte said.
No. 2 Halstead (8-1) will face No. 7 Moundridge (6-3) in the opening round at 4:30 p.m. next Thursday. If they win, they’ll play either No. 6 Haven (7-2) or No. 3 Garden Plain (8-1) at 7:30 p.m., Friday, while a loss would see them playing at 4:30 p.m.
Other teams in the tournament are No. 1 Cheney (9-1), No. 4 Nickerson (8-1), No. 5 Andale (6-1) and No. 8 Rose Hill (5-5).
Final rounds will take place next Saturday.
“It is going to be a challenging three days and we are looking forward to it,” Schutte said.
Last week, Halstead played two intense games against two of the best teams in the state, according to Schutte. The girls lost to Haven, 30-37, on Jan. 14, but defeated Hesston, 48-37, last Friday.
“The Haven game was kind of ugly for both teams,” Schutte said. “Both teams had 20-plus turnovers and not great shooting. I was pretty pleased with defense for the most part but we struggled to get any rhythm offensively.”
The score was tied 9-all after the first quarter, but Halstead only put up four points in the second compared to Haven’s 12. This ultimately made the difference in the game, as both teams scored seven points in the third quarter and Halstead outscored Haven by one point in the final period.
Junior Karenna Gerber led the team with 17 points. Freshman Kaleigh O’Brien added six points and had three steals. Junior Josie Engel added a three-pointer and juniors Kinsley Heck and Parker Schroeder both had two points.
After receiving their first loss of the season, the Halstead girls bounced back well against a talented Hesston team.
“Hesston is always a tough place to play, and the girls were ready for the challenge,” Schutte said. “I’m not sure the last time Halstead girls won at Hesston.”
Halstead took a 13-4 lead in the first quarter and held it at 25-15 by halftime. They were leading 38-20 heading into the final period.
“I felt our mindset going in was much better against Hesston and we executed some things really well,” Schutte said.
Gerber was responsible for 27 of Halstead’s points and also posted seven rebounds. Engel scored eight points, including two three-pointers, while O’Brien scored seven, Haley Lewis had three and Schroeder had two.
“Haley Lewis and Hailey Keley both had nice games against Hesston after struggling in the Haven game,” Schutte said. “Kaleigh O’Brien continues to improve on both ends. Parker was outstanding on the defensive end in both games, guarding two of the better players in the state on both nights and being a big reason they were below their season averages in points.”
The girls will host a makeup game against Hillsboro on Monday of next week before heading into the Haven Tournament. Schutte said this would make for a busy week for the team, but they had thought scheduling the Hillsboro game then would help break up the two weeks without games and prepare them for the tournament.