For a split second, the Salina Central boys basketball team was on the ropes at Valley Center.
In a blink of an eye, the Mustangs pulled away.
Senior David Grammer nailed three triples, sparking a 17-0 explosion, sophomore Caden Kickhaefer added a career-high 11 points, and the Mustangs sprinted past the Valley Center Hornets, 62-47, to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Salina Central threatened to run away from VC early as senior Harper Williams connected on a pair of treys. Senior Ben Driver added six points, creating a 15-4 cushion in the first quarter.
Valley Center (2-2) stung back, outscoring the Mustangs 21-11 in the next eight minutes, cutting the deficit to one. With energy fading, Central turned to Kickhaefer, who scored seven of his 11 in the second period. Later, senior Mark Grammer drilled a three from the top of the key, giving SC a 29-25 advantage at the half.
The first six points of the second half belonged to Valley Center as the Hornets grabbed their first and only lead with 6:20 to go, 31-29. Central turned it on from there with the 17-0 spurt, but more importantly, holding the Hornets to without a point for eight full minutes.
M. Grammer paced four Mustangs in double figures, scoring 13 points. Williams and Brogen Richardson added 10 each. The Salina Ortho Co-Players of the Game went to Kickhaefer, who also had five rebounds, and D. Grammer, who ended up with 10.
Salina Central returns home for the Salina Showdown, squaring off with Salina South on Friday. Pregame begins at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL, Y93.7, ksal.com and the Rocking M Media app.
Salina Central 57, Valley Center 39
Much like in the boys game, Salina Central needed a large run to put away the pesky Hornets.
After a slow start, Central (2-1) built two four-point cushions, both created by threes from freshman Aubrie Kierscht. Kierscht’s second propelled the Mustangs to an 8-2 run to close out the opening quarter with a 16-11 lead.
The ensuing period was the difference maker as Central outscored Valley Center (0-4) 18-6. Junior Kadyn Cobb had two threes in the quarter while senior Selah Merkle added four points.
Cobb finished with 10, Merkle added 13 for the game, but Kerscht paced the Mustangs in scoring with 14, matching a career-high set against Goddard in the season opener. Freshman Hampton Williams recorded her second straight double-double, pouring in 11 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.