The Salina Central girls basketball team was hoping to start off the new year with a bang.
Instead, the Derby Panthers did the celebrating.
Derby guard Sydney Nilles recorded a steal and threw the ball ahead to Maryn Archer for a bucket at the rim, Salina Central senior Kadyn Cobb’s heave caromed off the backboard as time expired, and the Panthers held on to edge No. 3 in 5A Salina Central, 62-60, Monday night in Derby. Derby, the No. 6 team in Class 6A, improved to 5-1, 3-0 in the AVCTL-I while Central dropped to 4-1, 1-1 in league play.
Early on, it looked like Derby would run away from Central. The Panthers drilled four threes, building a 19-9 advantage.
Salina Central didn’t back down from the challenge, constructing one of the Mustangs’ best quarters all season. Trailing 24-18, the Mustangs went on a 10-0 spurt, highlighted by a three from Cobb that tied up the game. The Mustangs were aggressive, forcing seven turnovers in the quarter and 13 fouls in the half, leading 31-28 at halftime.
Neither team could create separation in the third frame, setting up a wild finish. Central pushed the cushion out to six, 60-54 with just under four minutes remaining. The Mustangs would come up empty-handed for the rest of the way as the Panthers forced numerous turnovers, including Nilles’ steal.
Archer paced the Panthers with 18 points. Derryana Cobbins, a transfer from Wichita Heights making her debut, finished with 16.
Aubrie Kierscht led the Mustangs with 19 points. Chaliscia Samilton chipped in a career-best 12 points while Mykayla Cunningham added 11.
DERBY 74, SALINA CENTRAL 63
After witnessing Derby’s lead shrink to four, Isaac Ray drilled back-to-back threes, preserving the Panthers’ perfect record with a 74-63 victory. Derby raised its mark to 6-0, 3-0. Meanwhile, Central dropped to 2-3, 0-2.
The Panthers blitzed the Mustangs, rushing out to a commanding 21-6 margin. Salina Central battled back to within six, 34-28, but the final six tallies belonged to Derby, leading 40-28 at halftime.
Derby added to its largest cushion by two, pushing its lead to 47-30. Salina Central flipped the switch, outscoring the Panthers 17-6 to pull to within six, 53-47, headed into the fourth.
Central crawled even closer, only down 60-56 with 3:50 remaining. That’s when Ray hit Central with consecutive triples, combined with turnovers that gave Derby its sixth victory.
Ray paced the Panthers with 16 points. Jacob Karsak and Nick Bonner had 13 points each.
Reed McHenry led Central with 20 points. Nolan Puckett added nine for the Mustangs, who host Campus on Friday. Pregame begins at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.