When the postseason begins, teams just want to survive and advance.
Salina Central is okay with that.
Junior Harper Williams drilled a wide-open three with 1:31 remaining, Central hit 10 for the game, and the Mustangs hung on to edge Newton 62-58.
Last Friday, the Mustangs started hot versus the Railers, scoring the first 13 points. That didn’t happen, but Central did claim an early 7-2 cushion. Newton bounced back, knotting up the score at 9-9 with 3:20 left. SC ended up with a five-point lead, 14-9 after one, following a last-second triple by junior David Grammer.
Newton (9-12) made its run in the second stanza, using a 10-2 spurt to grab a 23-19 advantage. Central’s answer was four consecutive threes, two by Williams and two by junior Mark Grammer, the last at the buzzer to put the Mustangs ahead 31-26 at the break.
Offense came at a premium in the third period as both teams combined for 16 points. Newton sophomore Ty Berry had all nine points, hitting three treys. However, the four-star prospected fouled Central sophomore Quin Stewart on a three with 2.5 seconds left. Stewart made two-of-three, giving the Mustangs a 38-35 cushion after three.
Newton’s Berry turned to his defense in the fourth quarter, recording back-to-back run-out buckets, handing the Railers a 53-50 lead with under three minutes to play.
Central (15-6) flipped the script, relying on Williams to make a layup with a little over two minutes to go. Following a Berry turnover, Central beautifully executed an out-of-bounds play, resulting in a three for Williams, allowing the Mustangs to reclaim the lead at 55-53. The Mustangs wouldn’t lose the upperhand from there as Grammer and Williams combined for seven free throw makes in the final period.
Williams ended up with a team-high 19 points for Central, earning the Salina Ortho Player of the Game. Grammer provided 14, reaching double-digits for the fourth-straight game.
Berry had game-high honors, going off for 32 points. Junior Damarius Peterson chipped in 10.
Salina Central travels to Maize on Friday. Pregame begins at 6:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.