Salina Central’s Aubrie Kierscht was honored with a basketball before Thursday’s game after reaching the 1,000-point milestone the game before.
The Navy commit then torched the nets.
Kierscht scored 19 of her 25 points in the first half, Salina Central held Valley Center to just five points in the fourth quarter, and the Mustangs secured their third straight win, downing the Hornets, 63-35. Central improved to 13-4 overall, 8-2 in AVCTL-II play. Valley Center dropped to 7-11, 4-6.
After surrendering the first two points of the contest, Central outscored Valley Center 14-5 for the remainder of the quarter, keyed by Kierscht who scored 10 points.
Valley Center netted the first two points of the second. Salina Central quickly stretched the margin to double digits, following threes from freshman Callan Hall and sophomore Mykayla Cunningham. Kierscht had two triples herself in the second period, pushing the Central lead to 31-14 at intermission.
Salina Central ballooned the cushion to 19 points, but the Hornets didn’t go away, fighting back to a 44-30 deficit after the third frame. Central turned up the defensive pressure in the fourth to pull away.
Kierscht finished with 25 points. Junior Chaliscia Samilton added 11 points.
VALLEY CENTER 61, SALINA CENTRAL 50
The power of the three-ball can be a powerful thing.
After suffering from a three-point barrage to start the game, Valley Center returned the favor in the decisive third-quarter en route to an 11-point victory. Valley Center increased its mark to 14-4, 9-1 in league action while Central fell to 6-11, 4-6.
Salina Central raced out to a 12-7 cushion after connecting on four threes, three by junior Nolan Puckett alone.
After grabbing a 16-12 first-quarter lead, Salina Central went cold, recorded its first bucket with 2:15 to play in the half. The Mustangs’ defense kept them in the contest as they trailed by two at the break, 26-24, following a last-second bucket by Gabe Phillips for Valley Center.
The Hornets stung the Mustangs with 15-3 blitz, fueled by five treys, handing Valley Center a 41-27 cushion in the third. Central gave up one more three in the period and closed the gap to eight, 44-36.
The Mustangs trimmed the deficit to five early in the fourth, but couldn’t draw any closer.
Phillips paced the Hornets with 19 points. Kaleb Harden added 15.
Puckett finished with a career-high 16 points for Central. Seniors Caden Kickhaefer and Reed McHenry had 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Salina Central heads to Andover Friday. Pregame coverage at 5:45 on 1150 KSAL.