ALTAMONT — Twenty-eight points from Eli Hestand, which included a half-courter at the end of the third quarter, helped fuel a double-digit comeback for the Labette County Grizzlies, who beat the Circle Thunderbirds 51-43 Thursday night.
“In the first half he was a little slow,” Labette County head coach Bradley Argabright said of Hestand’s career-high outing.
“I told him to be aggressive and he found his shot in that second half. We challenged him defensively as well. He had a tough matchup. That’s not easy for somebody we relied so much on offense. But talk about clutch time. He came through in the end.”
The Grizzlies were slow out of the gate, scoring 11 points in the first half to Circle’s 19. Hestand’s halfcourt bucket at the end of the third quarter brought the deficit to 10 points with one quarter to play.
Labette County found an extra gear in the final eight minutes, outscoring Circle 25-7 to notch its first win of the season.
“We preached helping inside,” Argabright said. “We had to help everybody out. So we picked up the intensity. We really limited offensive rebounds in that fourth quarter. We buckled down.”
Luke McGinnis led Circle with 20 points.
The Grizzlies are now 1-2 on the season.
“I think this team is still green,” Argabright said. “We’ve only got one senior. It’s a whole new cast. But this group plays well together. I know Eli had 28 tonight, but he used his teammates well. They’re a fun group to coach that could’ve buckled at any time tonight. They kept chipping away and I love our grit.”
Labette County travels to Mulvane on Saturday in the final game of the remotely held T-Bird Classic. Mulvane beat Parsons on Thursday.
“We know they have two great shooters,” Argabright said. “We’ll have to get under them early and be ready to go. We’ll battle our butts off just like we have been the last two games.”
Labette County 51, Circle 43
Labette County: 3 8 15 25 — 51
Circle: 12 7 17 7 — 43
Labette County: Griffin Eaton 2, Tray Vinson 2, Eli Hestand 28, Chase Carnahan 6, Alex Meister 10, Trent Brock 3
Circle: Drew Middleton 10, Luke McGinnis 20, Trevor Cowman 5, Ty Smith 1, Ethan Koehn 5, Brenden Galloway 2