The Ell-Saline Cardinals faced a tall order Tuesday evening, hitting the road for a doubleheader tilt on the hardwood against the Sterling Black Bears in Heart of America League action. Entering play, Sterling’s varsity squads had combined for a record of 25-5 on the season. In contrast, Ell-Saline began Tuesday night with a combined 6-26 record.
Sterling flexed its muscle early on, turning in a next-to-flawless effort in the first half of the girls’ matchup, amassing a 47-12 halftime lead. The Black Bears shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half and hit their free throws at a 78 percent clip while turning it over just four times.
Defensively, the Black Bears were equally good, forcing 16 Cardinals turnovers by halftime on their way to a 79-36 win.
Sterling (14-2, 6-1) featured a balanced offensive attack, with 11 players putting points on the scoreboard before the end of third period. By game’s end, three Black Bears had reached double figures, with junior Grace Rowland leading the way with 15. Seniors Aniston Ramsey and Taya Wilson added 14 and 13, respectively. Ramsey’s perfect free throw shooting (7-7) and constant defensive harassment on the Cardinal backcourt earned her Salina Ortho Player of the Game honors for her effort.
The lone bright spot on an otherwise dreary night for Ell-Saline (2-15, 0-7) was the reemergence of sophomore guard Ashton Travis, who broke out of an extended shooting slump to pour in 16 points on the night, good for game-high scoring honors.
Comley Goes For 31 as Sterling Boys route Cardinals
Leading 11-8 with time winding down in the first quarter of Ell-Saline’s boys’ matchup with Sterling, Black Bear senior guard Kenan Comley capped off a strong first quarter by hitting a three-point bomb from beyond 25 feet from the bucket as time expired, giving Comley a nine-point first quarter while providing both Comley and the Black Bears with a 14-8 advantage and a ton of momentum heading into the second quarter.
Comley absolutely took over from that point forward, dropping 13 points in the second quarter and another nine in the third period, good for 31 points through the first three quarters, helping to propel the Black Bears to a 77-33 victory.
Finishing with 31 points, Comley also finished the night as the Salina Ortho Player of the Game. Fellow seniors Lucas Briar and Max Dutton chipped in 12 points apiece for Sterling (13-3, 6-1) in the winning effort.
Eight of nine Cardinals that saw the floor Tuesday night scored, but none were able to hit double digits in the loss. Sophomore Sawyer Kramer led Ell-Saline (4-13, 1-6) on the night with seven points, which seniors Spencer Came and Nathan Parks each added six.
Ell-Saline’s final Heart of America League road game is up next, with the Cardinal set to travel to Whitewater this Friday in a showdown with the Remington Broncos.