HALSTEAD — The Hesston Swather girls jumped out to a large lead early, handing the Halstead Dragons a 55-30 loss Thursday in Central Kansas League play in Halstead.

The loss was the first of the season to Halstead, 9-1 overall and 2-1 in CKL play. Hesston improves to 7-3, 3-1 in CKL play.

“This is the team I thought we could be from the get-go,” Hesston coach Matt Richardson said. “We’ve played some good competition. We were a different team this week. They want to compete and they want to play. We can’t get too far behind (in the CKL). We still have some solid teams. We have Haven and Nickerson. Halstead is in the top five right now. Coach (Derek) Schutte has done an awesome job with them.”

“Defensively, they took us out of what we wanted to do on offense,” Schutte said. “We had a bunch of turnovers, that created a bunch of run-ups and lay-ups. When that happens, it makes the baskets look really big. We weren’t able to get the shots we wanted or to put some pressure on them. We wanted to make them work defensively.”

Elise Kaiser led Hesston with 22 points, followed by Kailey Jo Ince with 15.

Kayla Newman led Halstead with 10 points, followed by Karenna Gerber with nine.

Hesston jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first four minutes of play and led 18-4 at the end of the period after an Ince 10-foot jumper went in at the buzzer.

The Swathers opened the second quarter on a 10-1 run. Halstead finished the period on a 7-0 run, trailing by 16 at the half, 28-12.

Hesston finished the first half nine of 18 shooting, four of eight from 3-point range. Halstead went five of 12, one of three from beyond the arc.

Halstead had nine turnovers to four for the Swathers.

The Swathers made a 10-3 run to start the third quarter, eight by Kaiser, including two layups off steals. Hesston led 47-18 at the end of the period.

Hesston rested its starters after a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter.

Hesston opens play in the Hillsboro Trojan Classic at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Tabor College against 1-7 Republic County.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this season,” Richardson said. “The players are finally coming through. The seniors have been great leaders. They are excited and are playing with a lot of enthusiasm. I want them to play a full 32 minutes. Sometimes, we have a little bit of a lull.”

Halstead opens play Jan. 22 or 23 at the Eli J. Walter Invitational in Elbing. Pairings will be made in that tournament next week.

“The girls will bounce back,” Schutte said. “The girls have a lot to work on. They are a young team. Every game has been a learning and growing experience for us. The girls will keep plugging away. They love playing and they’ll bounce back. Every game (at the tournament) will be tough. I don’t know where we’ll be seeded. We were able to win the tournament there and we had the toughest road.”

HESSTON (7-3, 3-1 CKL) — Dunlavy 2 (1) 1-2 2, 8; Weber 0 (1) 0-0 0, 3; Klassen 0 1-2 2, 1; Kaiser 7 (2) 2-2 0, 22; Vogt 0 0-0 0, 0; Ince 6 3-6 1, 15; Schilling 0 1-4 2, 1; Duerksen 1 1-2 1, 3; Li.Deegan 0 0-0 0, 0; Ly.Deegan 1 0-0 2, 2; TOTALS 17 (4) 9-18 11, 55.

HALSTEAD (9-1, 2-1 CKL) — Lewis 0 0-0 2, 0; Barrett 1 0-0 1, 2; Williams 0 (2) 0-0 3, 6; Engel 0 0-0 1, 0; Gerber 2 5-8 2, 9; Newman 5 0-0 2, 10; Werner 0 0-0 0, 0; McClain 1 1-2 3, 3; TOTALS 9 (2) 6-10 14, 30.