Valentine’s Day features gift-giving.
Salina Central received the greatest present: a victory over its cross-town rival.
Central’s defense was locked in from the start, three Mustangs made three treys in the final quarter, and Central hung on for a 52-48 victory over No. 6 Salina South at the Brickhouse Friday night. Central improved to 7-9 overall, 3-6 in AVCTL-I. South lost for the third straight game, dropping to 10-6, 5-4 in league action.
Both defenses were stout in the first eight minutes. South’s was a bit better, limiting Central to just two field goals. The Cougars made three buckets, giving them an 8-6 advantage after one.
Central controlled the ensuing period, logging maybe the best quarter of the season. The Mustangs outscored the Cougars 18-10, connecting on eight of the nine shots, putting the Mustangs on top 24-18 at intermission.
South junior Josh Jordan propelled the Cougars to an advantage once again, hitting his third triple and giving South a brief one-point lead. That wouldn’t be enough, however, as Central regained control, leading 32-30 after the third frame.
Salina Central stretched the margin to double-digits after treys by sophomore Nolan Puckett, senior Jevon Burnett and sophomore Micah Moore. After trailing by 11, 45-34, Salina South trimmed the margin down to two. Central was just 7-of-16 from the free throw line in the fourth, leaving the door open for a comeback. Moore ended the game with two free throws, clinching the victory.
Burnett and McHenry paced the Mustangs with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Jordan led South with 23 points.
CENTRAL 51, SOUTH 39
Much like the Central guys, the Lady Mustangs almost let the lead slip away.
Sophomores Aubrie Kiercht and Hampton Williams refused to let that happen, registering back-to-back three-point plays in the fourth, pushing the Lady Mustangs to a 51-39 victory. No. 4 Central increased its record to 14-2, 8-1 in league action. South fell to 8-8, 4-5.
Central’s defense was a brick wall in the first eight minutes, holding South without a bucket in the first period. Sophomore Landry Stewart supplied the firepower, scoring seven of her career-high 10 points in the first, willing the Mustangs to a 12-4 advantage.
Sophomore Kalysa Hamel logged the first bucket for Salina South, drilling a deep three to start the second stanza. Kierscht took over from there, pouring in 11 of her game-high 18 points in the second, handing Central a 33-16 halftime cushion.
The margin ballooned out to 20, 38-18, before the Cougars made their first bucket in the second half at the 2:40 mark in the third. That ignited a 19-2 burst for South, capped off by a three for sophomore Sydney Peterson.
Kierscht and Williams had the perfect response. Kierscht nailed her third triple of the game followed by a three-point play by Williams. Central finished off the game at the foul line, earning the win.
Williams joined Kierscht and Stewart in double figures, adding 13 points. Peterson paced South with 15 points.
Salina Central hosts Derby Tuesday. South welcome Eisenhower. Pregame coverage at 5:45 pm on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL (SC) and Y93.7 (SS)