GIRLS: Andover Central 60, Salina Central 52
The top five match-up between No. 4 Salina Central and No. 2 Andover Central lived up to a prime time billing, as each side made their respective runs, but the last one belonged to the host Jaguars as they pulled away for an eight-point victory, handing the Mustangs their first defeat.
Salina Central started with the first four points before Andover Central got going and built a lead of 11-6. The Jaguars led 14-11 after one quarter.
After the Mustangs got the first basket of the second period, Andover Central began to speed up the Mustangs to where open floor turnovers led to easy shots for the Jaguars. A 10-0 run made it 24-13, but after a timeout, Salina Central played solid and composed and worked their way back. The Mustangs answered with ten straight points to trail 24-23 at the break.
The third quarter went back and forth. Andover Central held the largest lead at 34-28, only to see Salina Central come back with a 7-0 run to take a one-point lead. The Mustangs were able to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, making 6 of 8 attempts.
The score was tied at 38 heading to the final quarter. Salina Central started well, taking a 42-38 lead with 6 minutes to play. But like what happened early in the second quarter, live ball turnovers would swing the momentum quickly back to the Jaguars. For the game, the Mustangs gave the ball away 24 times. The last few would do them in. Andover Central went on a 13-0 run and Salina Central could not counter in enough time.
Aubrie Kierscht led the Mustangs with 17 points, and Hampton Williams had 10 to lead the offense. Central is now 4-1 heading into the extended break.
BOYS: Salina Central 47, Andover Central 41
Salina Central coach Ryan Modin had reason to be concerned on Thursday heading into his team’s match-up with Andover Central. His second leading scorer, Caden Kickhaefer, was unavailable to play, and so his group would have to seek their first win while being shorthanded and also going up against an equally desperate team, the Jaguars were also winless coming in.
But the Mustangs put forth a terrific effort on the defensive end, consistently bothering the Jaguars into tough shots and turnovers. They led wire to wire, hanging on in the end to win by six.
The defensive effort began from the tip. Andover Central managed just one field goal in the first 12 minutes of game time. Salina Central led 13-3 after one quarter and led by 17 late in the second before Skyler Clevenger converted a three-point play to make it 24-10 at the half. The Jaguars only made three baskets the entire half.
The Mustangs continued to ramp up the pressure, not only playing great defense on the ball, but also getting great play from help-side defenders to get deflections and steals. This display of teamwork and intensity allowed Salina Central to build their largest lead, 34-15 with three minutes left in the third.
Andover Central would come alive with back-to-back steals that led to layups and they trimmed the deficit to 11 at 36-25 at the end of the quarter.
For the Mustangs, it was about finishing the job. And while it was not the prettiest at times, they would get the job done. The Jaguars got as close as five at 42-37 with 1:20 to play. But the Mustangs hit three of four from the line to lead by eight with 30 seconds left. Andover Central ran out of time and the visitors celebrated after getting that elusive first victory.
Central was led by Reed McHenry, Mr. Consistency, who scored 16 points and did yeoman’s work in the post. Logan Losey and Nolan Puckett chipped in with 11 points apiece. The defensive effort from Losey and Kenyon McMillan on the perimeter set the tone and everyone who played chipped in with positive contributions.
The Mustangs are now 1-4 and they along with the Central girls are now off until Jan. 8 when they will get back on the floor to take on the Andover Trojans.