The Dodge City High School Red Demons boys came out strong against a talented Great Bend Panthers team Friday night but two late runs in the second half put the Panthers over Dodge City 57-48.
Turnovers were a big problem for the Demons. At half time, the team had turned the ball over six times and the Panthers had turned that into 16 points.
Free throws were also a problem. The team was just 2-15 at the line, said Demons boys coach Tony Starnes.
The three point shot was just not falling. Cooper Scheck, who is usually accurate from the three point line, could not get the shots to fall. The Panthers did a good job of guarding Scheck who struggles a little when players get physical against him.
"He (Scheck) was having to work for open looks," Starnes said. "But he will get better from this. He will learn from it and grow."
John Johnson was a strong point for the team with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Cooper Lowell, who has been giving the team valuable minutes was not dressed for the game because he caught an elbow to the nose and it turned out to be a concussion. "That hurt us somewhat," Starnes said.
The Panthers played a pretty fast paced game and it caught the Demons sleeping several times. They did a good job of getting the ball up and down the court fast and points off turnovers was the Demons demise.
"We let the ball go by us too much," Starnes said. "We let the ball be driven too much."
The Panthers fast paced game is exactly what the Demons want to do and need to do to be successful.
But for all the problems, Starnes was pleased with the teams determination.
They did outscore the Panthers in the fourth quarter and they didn't quit, they played hard all the way through. The team did a good job defensively. Overall, they did enough defensively to win if they had done other things better.
"I though they did pretty good," Starnes said. "I was excited about our effort.
"The teams perimeter work was good and we did have opportunities at three's. The team has some good shooters but they can be better."
Cooper Scheck and Cooper Lowell are continuing to develop as are Aidan Sowers and Dawson Taylor.
As the regular season draws to a close, the Demons take on Hays in the last regular season game on Feb. 25. This will be a big challenge for the Demons as Hays sits tied for the top of the WAC and they have guards that can really shoot.
"We'll have to do a good job on the backboard. We'll have to over achieve," Starnes said.
In the substate tournament, the Demons will be the 16th seed and have to travel to Campus on March 4 unless something drastic happens between now and the start of tournament play.
Campus is very quick and are obviously very good. The Demons will have to play as hard as they can.
But this is the type of team the Demons need to play if they want to improve.
"Those are the teams you have to go through to get to state," Starnes said.
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