Practice? Who needs practice?
Apparently not the Hesston boys.
The Swathers, with many of their players less than a week removed from playing in the Class 3A state championship football game, looked like they had been practicing for weeks as Friday they routed Sacred Heart 66-36 in their season opener.
Hesston showed no rust with a 23-10 advantage after 8 minutes. The lead was 36-18 by halftime.
Zach Vogt made all 12 of his free throws on his way to 24 points to lead the Swathers. Reese Nebel furnished 11. Coach Greg Raleigh said he emptied his bench early and often as he wanted to evaluate his team moving forward.
• Hesston girls 56, Sacred Heart 20 — Freshman Elise Kaiser came off the bench to lead the Swathers as her 14 points led a balanced attack.
Hesston was all over the Knights early, sprinting to a 21-1 lead. The Swathers also held Sacred Heart to just 2 points in the fourth quarter.
Kailey Jo Ince chipped in with 13 points and completed a double-double with 12 rebounds. Olivia Brubacher added 12 points and Alaina Dunlavy was a floor general with 8 assists.
• Abilene boys 47, Smoky Valley 35 — The Vikings could never get the lid off the basket as they had three quarters where they scored just 10 points in each.
Nick Reinert led the Vikings with 17 points to account for nearly half the total. Smoky Valley coach Doug Schneider said his team played well enough to win defensively, but that it’s going to take time to develop some scorers to augment Reinert.
• Abilene girls 61, Smoky Valley 36 – Take away the first quarter and this was a far more competitive game than the final score indicates.
Abilene came out with guns a blazin’ with a 22-2 punch, but only 5 points separated the teams over the final three quarters.
Katie Bellah scored 16 points to lead the Vikings, who had no starter taller than 5-7 as they struggled off the glass.
• Rural Vista boys 54, Canton-Galva 35 — The Eagles won the second half 23-20, but that couldn’t make up for their slow start as the Heat, which has 11 seniors on its team, outscored C-G 34-12 in the first 16 minutes.
Reed Wiens led the Eagles with 13 points, Nick Pearson added 10 and Hunter Pearson just missed doubles with 9. Wiens had a nice stat line as he also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
C-G coach Shane Duncan was pleased with his team’s tenacity on the boards. Despite giving away considerable size, the Eagles won the rebound battle by two.
“I felt we played with really good effort tonight,” Duncan said. “Our halfcourt defense was pretty solid. It will take a while for a young, inexperienced team to gel. I saw some real positives that we can build on from tonight’s game.”
• Canton-Galva girls 47, Rural Vista 44 — Down a point after three quarters, the Eagles rallied behind Kelli Nightingale.
Nightingale poured in 18 points. C-G was down 23-18 at the half and still trailed 35-34 heading into the final quarter.
Emma Ruddle, just a freshman, added 8 points for the Eagles.
• Moundridge boys 69, Pretty Prairie 32 — It took the Wildcats a half to get going, but once they did they were unstoppable.
Moundridge put up 28 points in the third quarter to nearly equal the Bulldogs’ output for the game.
Four-year starter Anthony Otte drilled 11 of 13 from the field and finished with 23 points, while Noah Eichelberger scored 16 and Parker Lange had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
“First games are always difficult to project, so I emphasized the one thing that we could control and that was our effort,” Moundridge coach Vance Unrau said. “Pretty Prairie is athletic with good speed and quickness. They shot the ball well early and we had to battle back from behind in the first quarter. I was pleased with how we shared the ball tonight and that created balanced scoring.”
Lange did all the little things that added up big.
“Parker Lange was aggressive offensively and on the glass having a double-double for us,” Unrau said. “We got good effort from our bench from Lantonio Unruh and Jerod Kaufman. We didn't execute as well in the halfcourt offense as well as I had hoped, but we were able to get deflections for steals which allowed for some transition baskets, especially in the third quarter.”
• Moundridge girls 53, Pretty Prairie 36 – Balance may be the optimum word for Moundridge this year after relying for 20 points a game last year from the graduated Ashley Holler.
Bethany Stucky led a balanced MHS attack with 10 points as the Wildcats had five players with 8 points or more. MHS was up 15-5 after a quarter and was never headed.
MHS coach Brian Holloway said he was happy with the performance, noting the team received contributions from everyone who got into the game.
• Little River boys 39, Ell-Saline 27 — The Redskins were in lockdown mode, never giving up double digits in a quarter.
Offensively, the Cardinals had no answer for Little River’s Clay Zeller, who powered his way to 23 points, 16 of those in the first half as Little River led 22-11.
Jase Gareson added 10 points for the Redskins.
• Little River girls 46, Ell-Saline 44 — Emma McBride’s 15 points led Little River to the victory as it had to rally in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals took a 39-37 lead into the final quarter, but a couple of big 3-pointers by Madison Loder sparked Little River as she scored 8 of her 10 points in the period.
• Inman boys 53, Goessel 23 — Inman turned to its defense to run away with an easy victory.
Scoring was not available.
• Goessel girls 48, Inman 33 – A 19-6 third quarter was the difference for the Bluebirds.
No Teuton hit for double figures as the scoring was balanced. Ashtyn Schroeder led the scoring with 9 points.
Little River was down 30-19 at the half.
• Note — Elyria Christian does not open until Monday.