The Dodge City Red Demons used their patience on both ends of the floor to slow down the Great Bend Panthers and record a 35-28 Western Athletic Conference victory Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Dodge City moved another step closer to its fourth straight league title and will have the chance to win the title outright with a victory Tuesday night on "Senior Night" against the Hays Indians.
But it was about understanding what kind of game that would be played Friday night that helped the Demons (11-7, 5-1) record the win over the Panthers, the only team that had beaten Dodge City in league play this season.
"We knew coming in it was going to be a possession game and a low-scoring game," said DCHS boys basketball head coach Dennis Hamilton. "Great Bend did a good job of shortening the game by playing zone and being active, but our kids were patient.
"We found that we had enough in the tank to win this one. We could have lost this game, but our kids still felt like we were in control even when the margin was cut down to two."
Hamilton gave a lot of accolades to a number of his players for their contributions to the win. The Red Demons didn't have anyone score in double figures; but someone stepped up with a play whenever there could have been a Panther comeback.
Matt Goedeken scored eight points and had nine rebounds, with Jace Larson scoring eight as well. Shaphan Gross scored seven points, including a basket late in the game to give the Demons their largest lead of the game, while Rashaan Taylor hit two big buckets in the fourth quarter.
"When you look at the stat sheet and you see eights and sevens and fives across the board," Hamilton said. "It's a very crazy game and our kids rose to the challenge and got out of this muddy mess to win the ballgame.
"Jordan Doan was the difference. He had to guard their best player and he runs the show out front. I thought Jordan was as instrumental in this win as anybody else. He was the glue tonight."
The Panthers (4-14, 2-4) hit two three-pointers to take the early 6-2 lead, but the Red Demons scored 11 straight points in the first and second quarters on the way to a 15-11 lead at halftime. Neither team shot the ball well with Dodge City 5-of-14 and Great Bend 4-of-16 (2-of-13 after their initial shooting spree).
The margin stayed between four and eight points over the third quarter with Dodge City leading 23-19 with one stanza remaining. The Panthers hit the first basket of the final stanza before Taylor hit a three-pointer, then another basket as he was falling down to push the lead back up to seven.
Dodge City continued to make the plays and slowly pulled away, leading by nine late in the contest to secure the win.
Hays beat Garden City 46-38 and remain a game behind the Red Demons in the WAC standings. The two teams met in January at Hays with Dodge City winning the game 51-37. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:45 p.m.