The Salina Central girls’ basketball team had an opportunity to get back in the AVCTL-I title hunt on Friday.
The Mustangs did just that by hanging on for a 49-45 win in OT over Maize.
It was a total team effort on Friday for Salina Central as the Mustangs started from the beginning playing a suffocating defense that would last all night long.
The first quarter went back-and-forth with both squads tied at 14 at the end of the period. The second quarter though, would belong to the Mustangs. Central would own the period led by their defense and the excellence of Elissa Backes, as Maize struggled to slow her. Central led by seven at one point in the stanza, however, they saw their lead shrink to one, with a 27-26 halftime lead.
Central wouldn’t surrender the lead all third quarter, leading 37-35 going to the final quarter. The Mustangs, in fact, had several opportunities to close out the game by making free-throws. However, the Mustangs misses kept Maize alive in the final minute.
Maize had the ball down by three with :12-seconds to go,they would then take Sydney Holmes that banked in at the buzzer to send the game to OT.
It appeared that Maize had all the momentum, but the even-keeled Mustangs never got down with the help of an unsung hero. With the game tied with only 2 minutes to go in OT, Soph., Kadyn Cobb soaked a 3-pointer to give SC as lead that they would never surrender.
Salina Central (7-2, 3-2 AVCTL-I) made just enough free-throws down the stretch to pull out the win and keep their league title hopes alive. Cobb helped the Mustangs win with 13 points.
Maize (6-2, 4-2 AVCTL-I) were led by Halie Jones’ 15 points with Holmes chipping in with 13.
The Salina Ortho “Player of the Game” was Salina Central’s Elissa Backes, who had a career night. The Central senior tallied 21 points and 19 rebounds.
Salina Central plays Concordia next in the first round of the SIT next Thursday.
Maize 52, SALINA CENTRAL 29
The thrill of victory quickly faded after the girls’ game when the Salina Central boys’ team started the game in a giant hole.
Things went south on the Mustangs from the opening tip-off as Maize tipped the ball in to their front court and Caleb Grill raced to the loose ball and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk not even 5-seconds in to the game.
From there, Salina Central would suffer through a difficult night as the Mustangs trailed at one point 21-0 to start the first quarter. The Mustangs would not get their first point until around the 2-minute mark. It would be the only points of the quarter that Central would score as they trailed 21-2 after one.
Maize’s defense was on another planet. Central found no holes driving in to the teeth of the man-to-man defense, couldn’t find any production inside all night and couldn’t knock down enough perimeter shots to make a comeback.
Maize also ran flawless offense with Grill and Devon Koehn torturing the Mustang defense all night. Maize would also slam four thunderous dunks on the night.
Salina Central (6-3, 3-2 AVCTL-I) would see no scorers land in double-figures. Central appeared uncomfortable all night.
Maize (6-2, 6-0 AVCTL-I) were led by Grill with 14 points and Koehn added 13 for the Eagles who remain all alone in first place in the league standings.
The Salina Ortho “Player of the Game” was Salina Central’s Harper Williams who finished with nine points.
Salina Central is the two-seed as apart of the SIT next week. Salina Central hosts Concordia in the first round of the tournament. Both teams play on Thursday with the boys’ following the girls’ game on Sportsradio 1150 KSAL. Game times are 6:30/8:15 p.m.