Salina Central had a full week to prepare for its 2019-20 home opener.
The girls basketball team didn’t disappoint.
Sophomore Aubrie Kierscht scored 13 points in the first quarter, Central scored 32 points before a made Great Bend field goal, and the Lady Mustangs pummeled the Panthers, 69-27, Friday night inside the Brickhouse. The No. 5 team in Class 5A improved to 2-0 on the young season.
A week ago, Salina Central edged previously ranked Goddard on the road, but then had Tuesday off. The extra rest was crucial as the defense forced 11 turnovers in the opening frame and the offense registered the first 15 points. Great Bend (2-3) made a free throw with 2:33 to go in the opening period, but couldn’t stop the bleeding as the Mustangs raced out to a 32-1 advantage before Great Bend’s first bucket at the 5:20 mark of the half.
Central led 45-7 at halftime and then 60-16 through three quarters as the two teams had to deal with a running clock in the final quarter.
Kierscht was one of three players in double figures. Kierscht finished with 17 points to lead the charge. Senior Kadyn Cobb added 10 and freshman Mykayla Cunningham chipped in 11 off the bench.
GREAT BEND 50, SALINA CENTRAL 45
Salina Central (1-1) showed plenty of fight, but ultimately, the inexperience caught up with the Mustangs.
Both offenses struggled to score as the two teams combined for 20 points in the opening stanza with Great Bend (3-2) holding a sliver of a lead at 11-9.
With the offense still sputtering, Central fell behind by 11 points, twice, the last in the third when trailing 32-21. That’s when Central took off, largely because of the defensive effort that forced missed shots for Great Bend.
Salina Central used an 11-3 spurt to trim the margin to 35-32 at the end of three. Following a Great Bend bucket, the Mustangs used another 11-3 burst, except this time, jump ahead of the Panthers 43-41 with 4:47 left in the game.
The contest remained close as the score locked up at 45-45 with 1:45 to go. Inexperience then took over.
Junior Reed McHenry missed a three that resulted in the seventh foul by Salina Central, sending Great Bend senior Peyton Duvall to the free throw line. He drilled both freebies with 55 seconds left. Central attempted to hold for the final shot, but Duvall stole a Mustang pass, only to be fouled and then approach the line to give the Panthers the victory.
Senior Alex Schremmer led the Panthers with 16 points. Just three players scored for Central, led by McHenry’s 28.
Salina Central stays at home on Tuesday when the Mustangs host the Valley Center Hornets. Coverage begins at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.