An ice-cold shooting performance in the final quarter was too much for Salina Central boy’s basketball to overcome in their 60-46 loss to Basehor-Linwood in the opening round of the class 5A state tournament on Thursday night.
In what was Central’s fourth-straight trip to the state tournament—a first in school history—the Mustangs matched up with the No. 3 seed in the tournament, Basehor-Linwood at White Auditorium in Emporia.
The first quarter went back and forth throughout, as Caden Kickhaefer sank the game’s first 3-pointer to put SC on top. However, Basehor-Linwood’s Jacob Coleman, who came in averaging 18.5 PPG, paced the Bobcats as they surged to take an 18-16 lead at the end of the first.
The story was the same in the second quarter as Coleman pounded Central both inside and out to keep Basehor-Linwood on top. But crucial shots from Salina Central’s Mark Grammer kept the game close as the Mustangs trailed 30-26 at halftime.
In the locker room, Mustang coach Doug Finch made some adjustments as to how SC would guard Coleman. The Mustangs came out in a box-and-one defense which really seemed to frustrate the Bobcats. Meanwhile, on the other end of the floor, Harper Williams and David Grammer heated up for Central to put the Mustangs back in front with a 7-0 run to start the half.
Central was able to control the tempo in the third quarter, however, they were never able to create separation as Basehor-Linwood continued to make big shots to stay in the game. Salina Central led 45-42 going in to the final quarter.
Unfortunately for Salina Central, the Mustangs picked a bad time to go cold, as they would score just one point in the period on a Williams FT make. Meanwhile, the Bobcats made some big shots from behind the arc with both Nolan Ford and Conner Younger.
The cold shooting Mustangs were doomed once Basehor-Linwood got a double-digit lead with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game.
Basehor-Linwood (20-2) advances to the 5A semis, where the Bobcats face defending state champion, No. 7 seed Bishop Carroll. The Bobcats were led by Coleman with 19 points, Ford with 12 and both Younger and Cory Davilla with 11 points, each.
Salina Central (17-6) shot 50% from the field for three quarters, however, didn’t make a single field goal in the fourth. M. Grammer led the Mustangs with 15 points. No other scorer made it to double-figures.
The game was the final in maroon for seven Mustang senior players: Harper Williams, Mark Grammer, David Grammer, Ben Driver, Brogen Richardson, Kameron DeMars and Caleb Glen.
The game was also the final for coach Finch, who is retiring from Salina Central at the end of the school year.