On the final day of the Salina Invitational Tournament, Salina Central boys basketball coach Ryan Modin felt his team took a step back for the first time this season.
Six days later, his team responded in a big way.
Seven Mustangs scored at least four points, Central locked down Hays’ post play while also limiting Hays to four points in the fourth quarter, and the Mustangs rolled to a 54-33 victory over the Indians inside the Brickhouse Friday night. Salina Central improved to 5-7. Hays dropped to 8-4.
Both offenses came out on fire, trading baskets before Central claimed the upperhand on senior Jevon Burnett’s second three. Junior Brady Stack and sophomore Logan Losey each added a triple, allowing the Mustangs to double up the Indians, 22-11, at the end of one. Hays was within seven before a 6-0 run gave Central a 33-20 halftime advantage.
After leading by 17 points, Hays trimmed the deficit to eight, 37-29, using a 9-0 burst. Central capped off the third with a three by Losey and a last-second reverse layup by senior Reed McHenry, propelling the ‘Stangs to a 42-29 cushion. Central outscored Hays 12-4 in the final period to get the victory.
Burnett paced the Mustangs with 11 points, but it was his defense that decided the game. Burnett combined with McHenry and sophomore Nolan Puckett to shut down the much taller Hays squad that featured 6’5″, 6’6″, and 6’10”, holding the Indians to 13 points.
CENTRAL (10-2) 52, HAYS (4-8) 39
With the loss of senior Kadyn Cobb for the season, Salina Central has to adjust for the rest of the season.
The Mustangs are off to a good start.
Sophomore Aubrie Kierscht poured in a career-high 27 points, including a three that sparked a crucial lengthy run that lifted Central to a 52-39 win.
Salina Central jumped out to a 9-2 advantage before Hays rallied to within one. Central went cold, allowing Hays to grab a brief 14-13 cushion.
After a SC timeout, the Mustangs took control of the contest, scoring the last 15 points of the half, putting the Mustangs on top 28-14 at intermission. From there, it was all Central as Kierscht continued to nail shots and the defense forced numerous turnovers.
En route to her 27-point night, Kierscht made seven threes. Sophomore Hampton Williams added nine for the Mustangs.
Central stays in town for the next doubleheader, jumping back into league action by hosting Newton. Pregame coverage begins at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.