Tuesday night’s game at Derby will go down as one the Salina Central boys’ basketball team would like to have back.
The Mustangs led by double-digits for much of the game, only to see a massive Derby rally on the way to a 73-65 loss.
In a big game between two teams fighting for the top of the AVCTL-I standings–along with Maize–both teams came out feeling each other out in the first stanza, as Central led after a low scoring 12-9 quarter.
The second quarter is where the fun really started for the Mustangs. Led by their guard, Sam Shaffer, as well as a balanced scoring attack; Central could not be stopped in the second quarter. The Mustangs rolled their way to a 23-point period capped off by a buzzer-beating three by David Grammer to send Central up by 11 at the break, 35-24.
That’s when things got weird.
Central and Derby went back-and-forth in the opening parts of the third quarter, with Derby inching closer. Derby was led by their guard Tyler Brown and forward Bryant Mocaby in the rally. By the end of the third, Central’s once 13-point lead had evaporated with Derby tying the game at 48-48 going to the final quarter.
An unsung hero for much of the night for Central was junior Ben Driver. Driver played his most effective game of the year, drawing Derby’s Brown on the defensive end and chipping in nine points on the offensive end.
However, at the start of the final quarter, Driver would penetrate in to the lane, and be called for a controversial charge–his fifth foul, fouling him out.
It was at the same point when Mustangs’ coach, Doug Finch–who already had one technical foul called against him–jumped off of the bench for a split second in protest of that call. The split second was enough for the officials to call their second technical foul on Finch, ejecting him for the rest of the game.
Derby would not look back. Led by Brown and Mocaby, the Panthers started to pull away from a rattled Central team. A lid seemed to be placed on the bucket on the Central end of the floor as the Mustangs just couldn’t get any shots to drop in the fourth quarter, on their way to their first loss on the season and big missed opportunity.
Derby (1-2, 1-1 AVCTL-I) was led by four Panthers in double-figures, including Brown with 23, Mocaby with 18, Emilio Valentin with 14 and Grant Adler’s 12.
Salina Central (3-1, 1-1 AVCTL-I) struggled not only from the field in the second half, but from the foul line all night. The Mustangs were led by three scorers in double-figures. Shaffer had 20, Harper Williams had 11 and Ethan Speer chipped in 10.
Central will try to bounce back in a rivalry game at the “Brickhouse” on Friday against Salina South.
Derby 65, CENTRAL 37
The final score didn’t represent how much the Salina Central girls’ basketball team made Derby work for their win on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the second and fourth quarters are ones that they would like to have back, being outscored 16-5 and 24-9 respectively.
Derby–who finished as the 6A state tournament runners-up in 2017–has at least two division I players on their roster, yet Central made the Panthers earn it for much of the night.
The score was just 17-14 after one, however, at halftime Derby led 33-19. Central would start the third on a 7-0 run by upping their intensity and even had a shot to make the game even closer than the seven point margin at the time. But the Mustangs would get no closer, as Central would not have an answer for Tor’e Alford, who had several steal and scores over the course of the game to help Derby keep Central at arm’s length.
Derby (2-1, 2-0 AVCTL-I) was led by Alford’s 23, Kennedy Brown with 13 and 10 from Sydney Nilles.
Salina Central (2-2, 0-2 AVCTL-I) was led by Elissa Backes’ 14 points.
Next up for the Mustangs, they’ll entertain the Salina South Cougars for rivalry night on Friday. You can catch both games on the simulcast of both 1150 KSAL and Y93.7. Tip times are set for 6/7:30 at Salina Central.