Kylan Thomas gets up for a shot against Hays earlier this season in The Big House. Friday, the Redskins traveled to Hay and escaped with a 43-42 win to remain tied for first place int he Western Athletic Conference. L&T photo/Earl Watt
By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
With time running out and Liberal clinging to a two-point lead, disaster was averted after a late intentional foul call against the Redskins in Hays, and with less than a second to play, Hinkle had to count on his fingers to make sure the Redskins had enough points to win, and his total proved to be just enough in a 43-42 Redskin victory.
Hays had a 13-12 lead after the first quarter, but the Redskin defense put the clamps on the Indians in the second, holding Hays to four points while the Redskins scored 14, and Liberal had a 26-17 lead.
But the Redskins suffered a setback when Deladris Green came up limping and had to leave the game.
Green did not return the rest of the night, and other Redskins had to fill the gap.
That included Cade Hinkle and Kylan Thomas, and they had to do it in a hostile environment on Homecoming night in Hays.
The Indians trimmed Liberal’s lead to 35-31 heading into the fourth quater despite Liberal building an 11-point lead.
With time running down, Liberal had a two-point lead and only four team fouls.
Alex Carillo attempted to slow down the Indians with a foul in backcourt, but it was called an intentional foul instead, and Hays had a chance to tie the game and get the ball.
But the Indians missed both free throws, and a defensive stop led to a Hays foul that sent Hinkle to the line for a pair of free throws in a one-and-one situation.
Hinkle sunk both free throws to give the Redskins a four-point lead with less than two seconds to play.
Hays attempted a long pass, but Thomas intercepted it for the apparent final play, but he was called for traveling with 0.45 seconds to play.
Thats when Hinkle used his fingers to show the Redskins they had enough points to win.
But Hays inbounded, caught the ball at the three point line and put up a shot, all in less than 045 seconds, and the shot went in, cutting Liberal’s final margin of victory to one, 43-42.
Hinkle led Liberal with 15 points, and Thomas had 13.
“I don’t know the last time we beat Hays two times,” Hinkle said. “I told the guys it was in the 1800s. When Lad went down, Cade said, ‘We got ya.’ We could have folded our tent. We weren’t very good on defense and rushing on offense. Tyrik (King) came in and did a good job. He played a lot of minutes.”
Cade Hinkle had another big night against the Indians, hitting three long-range threes and making four of five free throws including two critical shots in the final seconds.
“I wrote him a note this morning,” his father/coach said. “Every once in a while I do that. It said, ‘Hays is a special place for you.’ He has come up big for us. You don’t want him trying to do too much, but how do you fault a kid for trying to win a game? I couldn’t be more proud of how he stepped up. How about Kylan Thomas? His play has gone through the roof. Tribute to the beauty of this team. It’s a great team to be around.”
In a three-way tie in the Western Athletic Conference lead at the beginning of the night, Hinkle told his team that there was little room for error.
“I point blank told them, ‘you lose this game, the sun comes up but you probably don’t win the WAC.’ You don’t wrap it up, but you put yourself in a position. You lose, you don’t.’ That’s how important this was to us.”
Hinkle also planned to use the intentional foul as a teaching moment.
“He went for the ball, but he grabbed him,” Hinkle said. “I told them, ‘He is not going to make these free throws. We need to be ready to play defense.’ He steps up and missed both of them. You learn from that. You have to slap him, you can’t grab a guy. We contemplated fouling late, but why risk it?”
Liberal moved to 4-1 in the WAC and remained tied with Garden City. To continue to compete for the WAC title and to host Sub-State, Hinkle was more concerned about getting Green back. By the end of the night, Green was walking on his own.
“He said he was fine to play,” Hinkle said. “He could have played, but he was very hindered. It was the same ankle as before. He would have to fight through the pain. I didn’t want to risk that. Let him heal up a little bit. We need him when it really matters. He is a fighter and a team member. He is just as happy for his teammates.”
Hays outshot Liberal from three-point range, hitting five to Liberal’s four, and outscored the redskins 25-17 in the second half including the desperation three at the buzzer.
But Liberal’s strong second quarter led to the win.
Liberal returns to The Big House Tuesday to host Cimarron.