Going into the Salina Invitational Tournament, the Salina Central girls basketball squad had to grind out an overtime victory.
The Lady Mustangs used that toughness to allow them to defend their SIT title.
Senior Myah Ward received a kind roll on a triple for the go-ahead score, junior Selah Merkle picked up a couple steals and Central hung on to edge Concordia 49-47 Thursday at the Brickhouse. Central ignored shooting woes and a stellar 31-point performance by Concordia senior Cydney Bergmann.
Salina Central flirted with a blowout win after jumping out to a 16-7 first-quarter lead. The Panthers flipped the script in the second stanza, going on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 19-18. Bergmann connected on her ninth free throw of the half to knot up the score at 23-all, but Central junior Holly Sanderson had an offensive putback with three ticks remaining to put the Lady Mustangs ahead 25-23.
Concordia continued to pound away in the second half, grabbing its first lead since 2-0 with 4:17 to go in third period. Bergmann capped off the quarter with an and-one bucket, sending the Panthers to the fourth with a 34-31 advantage.
After a triple by Merkle, Concordia went on a 7-0 run, extending the lead to 41-34. That’s when the Mustangs forced turnovers, paced by Merkle who had eight of her 11 points in the final period. Ward sent the Mustangs ahead with a shot off the front rim that went off the backboard into the hoop with under a minute to play. Senior Elisa Backes nailed two free throws to balloon the margin out to three points, allowing Central to ice the game.
Backes had a team-high 19 points, but the Salina Ortho Player of the Game went to Ward for her trey. Bergmann’s 31-point outing is the second-most in SIT history, only behind SC’s Casey Knoth back in 2016.
Central (8-2) takes on Abilene in the semifinals on Friday at Mabee Arena. Pregame starts at 6:15 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.
SALINA CENTRAL 60, CONCORDIA 32
Central made sure to get back on track after scoring seven points in the first half against Maize going into the SIT.
The Mustangs and Panthers combined for six threes to open the contest, with Central falling behind 12-6.
That didn’t last long as Central scored 28 unanswered points to go up 34-12. Concordia didn’t record a field goal in the second frame until 30 seconds were left in the half.
Salina Ortho Player of the Game David Grammer recorded a career-high 11 points. Senior Jack Atherton added a career-high eight off the bench as the Mustangs used 12 players.
Central (7-3) battles Buhler in the semifinals on Friday. Pregame begins at 8:00 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.