Hays Edges Central Again
Mike Hammett - March 12, 2014 10:53 pm
For the second time this season, the Salina Central boys nearly handed Hays its first loss of the season. But for the second time, the Indians found a way to rally from a fourth quarter deficit and win, this time in the quarterfinals of the Class 5A state tournament at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. Hays defeated Central 48-46 on Wednesday night.
The first half belonged to Hays. The two sides traded baskets early, with Central sinking three-pointers from Rashun Allen, Max Kuhn and Brayden Neuschafer to lead 9-6 with 4:24 to go in the first quarter. Hays would go on a 7-0 run to take a four point lead at 13-9, but Central pulled within two after a quarter on a bucket by Allen. Hays led 13-11 after one.
In the second quarter, Central tied the game at 13 on Jordan McNelly’s basket, but Hays answered with an 8-0 run to go up 21-13 on a bucket by Isaiah Nunnery. Hays led by as much as nine at 24-15, but Central got five of the final seven points of the half, and trailed 26-20 at halftime.
In the second half, Central came out on fire. The Mustangs opened the half with a three by Kuhn, and then got back-to-back buckets from Treyton Hines and Allen to lead 27-26 with 6:06 to go in the quarter. The lead changed hands four more times, with Central regaining a 1-point lead at 32-31 on a three by Neuschafer with 1:20 left in the quarter. With time winding down in the third, Allen hit a three from the top of the key to push the lead to 35-31, but Kyler Niernberger answered with a three at the buzzer to get Hays within one, 35-34, after three.
The final quarter was eventful. Central would lead for most of the quarter. The Mustangs went up as much as six at 42-36 on a three by Hines, 44-38 on a bucket by McNelly, and 46-40 on another basket by McNelly with 2:52 remaining. However, it was the last points Central would score. Hays tied the game over the next two possessions as Jordan Windholz hit back-to-back threes, the last tying the game with two minutes to play. Central then decided to try and hold for the final shot, but turned the ball over with 20 seconds left and fouled Hays. Lane Clark hit both ends of the one-and-one to put Hays up 48-46 with 18 seconds left. Central used a timeout with 4.9 seconds left, but Neuschafer’s deep three at the buzzer was well off the mark, as Hays held on.
Allen and McNelly led the Mustangs with 12 points each. McNelly added nine rebounds. Hays was paced by 16 points from Windholz.
Central ends its season at 13-10. Hays will face Highland Park in the semifinals on Friday.