Maize High's girls featured offensive balance and defensive intensity while rolling past Hutchinson High 57-14 in Friday's Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League basketball opener.
Sophomore Keiryn Swenson, who led the way with 16 points while showing off an accurate outside shot. Brayden Byrd dominated inside with 15 points. Paige Lungwitz scored nine points and Saige Baalman added eight points.
The Eagles' combination of height and speed proved difficult for the Salthawks to navigate. The Eagles forced several dozen Hutchinson turnovers with a mix of fullcourt pressure, halfcourt traps and aggressive halfcourt defense.
“We played with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm,” said Maize coach Jerrod Handy. “The girls were ready to play tonight. We were able to work on different defenses tonight. Our activity and footwork was good tonight.”
Maize forced several turnovers and roared to an 11-0 lead behind a flawless start, keyed by Handy’s 3-pointer. Hutchinson’s Shayla DeGarmo broke up the shutout with a basket and point guard Erica Long fed Hannah Weber for back-to-back baskets to slice Maize’s lead to 13-6. Maize led 16-6 after one period.
The Eagles outscored the Salthawks 12-0 in the second period and started the second half with eight more points to cap 23 consecutive points for a 36-6 lead. Maize showed off good balance and teamwork.
“All of our starters can score and they are good kids who share the basketball really well,” Handy said. “We were working on things and trying to get better as a basketball team.”
Defending AVCTL champion Maize is reloaded for a return trip to the Class 6A state tournament behind several Division I recruits and five players at least 5-foot-10. Kansas State, Creighton and Missouri State are recruiting Swenson.
Sophomore Daley Handy has attracted recruiting interest from Kansas State and Wichita State. All-state point guard Paige Lungwitz has signed with Pittsburg State University after averaging 14 ppg and 3 assists last year.
Hutchinson (0-2, 0-1 AVCTL) will endure some growing pains after graduating four starters. The Salthawks return starter 5-7 Shea Morford (4 ppg) from a 12-9 team that finished 6-6 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division I.
Hutchinson High coach Tom Clark liked the fight in his team.
“Maize is a good team with a lot of height and length that gave us trouble matching up,” Clark said. “But I liked the fight in our team. We didn’t back down. I didn’t feel we were intimidated by their height. That gives us some hope.”
Clark said his team needs to learn to finish plays rather than just being satisfied with breaking the press past halfcourt.
“We’re learning,” he said. ”There were plays available. We just need to learn to make a ball fake and throw a pass or fake inside and shoot the ball. It’s all about developing confidence and that’s something they’ve got to do in a game situation. Once they do that in a game, that’s a team that will improve.”
The Salthawks managed just 14 points. Erica Long, Jenna Higgins, Alison Reiser and Cassie Zook also found the scoring column. Hutchinson’s inside players 5-10 sophomore Abby Cavillo, 6-1 McKinna Kraus and 6-1 Cassie Zook gained valuable experience battling against an athletic and quick frontline.
Maize (2-0, 1-0) plays Derby at home Tuesday. Hutchinson travels to Campus.