Before the Salina Central girls basketball team arrived at Eisenhower High School, the Mustangs were shorthanded with the loss of junior Selah Merkle.
Reinforcements were ready to go.
Senior Myah Ward hit four threes, sophomore Kadyn Cobb made her season debut and Salina Central hung on to edge the Eisenhower Tigers 47-43 Friday night to open 2018.
Central sprinted out to a 10-1 cushion following Ward’s first triple of the night. Eisenhower didn’t pick up its first bucket until the two-minute mark. The Tigers added a couple more, but SC’s Ward connected on a three to end the opening stanza, giving the Mustangs an 18-8 cushion.
Eisenhower’s lone senior had the response, though, making 10 of her team-high 15 points in the second quarter. After trimming the margin to four, the Mustangs hit the Tigers with a 10-0 burst, sparked by back-to-back treys by Ward, putting Central ahead 32-20 at the break.
The advantage ballooned to as many as 16, but Eisenhower crawled back to within three, 43-40, with six minutes to play in the game. Cobb combined with senior Elisa Backes to score all eight points in the fourth for the win. Backes poured in 24 points while Cobb added seven in her return from ACL surgery in the offseason.
Central (5-2) returns back home to face off with another AVCTL-II team in Maize South on Tuesday. Pregame coverage at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.
#2 Eisenhower 48, #4 Salina Central 46
The Mustangs were eyeing a chance at making a statement, but fell a bit short.
Eisenhower jumped out to a 7-0 cushion early before Central’s first bucket with 3:35 to go in the first. That was the start of 11 straight for the Mustangs, featuring junior Mark Grammer. Coming off a career-high 16 points against Campus to close out 2017, Grammer opened the new year with eight first-quarter points, including a triple at the buzzer to put Central ahead 11-7.
Although both teams boast potent offenses, it was the defense that stole the show in the second period as the squads combined for 16 points, 10 for the Tigers as they made it an even 17-all ballgame at the half.
Salina Central fell behind just slightly, but knotted up the score at 26 apiece with 1:54 to go in the third. Eisenhower went on an 8-0 run and made an early fourth-quarter bucket to grab a 36-26 lead.
Despite trailing by seven late in the tilt, the Mustangs stayed close to the Tigers. Grammer drilled his fifth triple in the final quarter, followed by a steal and a three by senior Sam Shaffer with under 10 seconds remaining. Eisenhower senior Dylan Vincent made one-of-two free throws and followed his own miss, only to touch the baseline with 2.3 seconds on the clock. Senior Ethan Speer fired a baseball pass to junior Harper Williams, who tossed to Grammer for the potential game-winner, but it ricocheted off the backboard.
Grammer tied his career-high of 16 points while Shaffer and Speer added 11 points each. Vincent scored 17 for the Tigers.
Central (5-2) takes on Maize South on Tuesday.