Cougars Get Road Split at Maize South

GIRLS: Maize South 31, Salina South 29

From start to finish, the Lady Cougars and Lady Mavericks were locked in a defensive struggle that came down to the final seconds. Unfortunately for Salina South, they came up just short when Maize South forward Avery Lowe hit two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to break a tie and give the hosts their ninth consecutive win.

The Cougars, who had lost to the same team by 26 points back in mid-December, proved again how far they have come since that time. They were not able to replicate the offensive effort they put forth in an upset win over rival Central on Tuesday, as Maize South’s length and 3-2 zone defense forced turnover after in the first half. But the Cougars held firm on the defensive end themselves and rebounded well against the much taller Mavericks.

Neither team scored for over four minutes to start the game. Kylie Arnold finally broke the 0-0 deadlock with a three-pointer from the corner with 3:50 left in the first quarter. Maize South got their first hoop with 2:50 to go on a trey from Piper McCann. DeKeira Clay scored a pair of buckets to give the Mavs a 7-3 lead at the end of the period.

Maize South extended the lead to 15-5 in the second before Sydney Peterson scored five straight points to end the half and the Cougars trailed 15-10. They battled back to tie the score at 15 in the third before the Mavericks scored five straight to regain the lead. Salina South got another counter-punch in and took a 21-20 lead heading to the fourth.

The Cougars extended the lead to five at 27-22 before the Mavs made one final push. Riley Kennedy tied the score at 29-all with a three from the right wing with just under two minutes to play. The Cougars held on to the ball but failed to convert and Maize South took the clock down to the final seconds. Off an inbound with 4.2 seconds left, the ball came to Lowe who was fouled going up for a shot with 2.9 seconds. She knocked the free throws down and Acacia Weis’ final heave from just inside the halfcourt line was on target, just a bit short and the Mavs escaped with the win.

Peterson stepped up to lead all scorers with 13 points and Weis scored ten for the Cougars (6-8). Lowe led Maize South (10-4) with nine points.

BOYS: Salina South 60, Maize South 46

For the better part of the first half on Friday, the undefeated Cougars didn’t play to their ability as the Mavericks started strong on their home floor. Through 13 minutes, Salina South could only muster eight points and trailed 18-8. Then, it was as if a switch was flipped. The light came on and the Cougars revved into gear, going on a 26-3 run that spanned parts of the second and third quarters and they never looked back in securing a 14-point victory.

Following the conclusion of the girls game, there was about a 30 minute wait for the boys game as Maize South held their senior night festivities. Whether it was the longer wait to take the court or another reason, the Cougars came out flat when the game started and the hosts took advantage, getting their guards downhill on drives to the basket. They took an 8-0 lead and coach Jason Hooper had seen enough and called timeout.

Things didn’t improve immediately. The Mavs led 14-6 after one quarter and then built their largest lead at 18-8. Neither team scored for a couple of minutes but then a spark was lit and the Cougars caught fire. Three-pointers from Josh Jordan and Devon Junghans helped the Cougars tie the score at 18. After a Maverick free throw, there was 4.9 seconds left in the half. Maize South allowed Colin Schreiber to sneak past them, and he took a long pass and took the ball to the hoop for a buzzer-beating layup to give the Cougars their first lead at the half, 20-19.

Salina South didn’t allow the halftime break to slow their momentum. The 12-1 run to end the first half was added on with a strong second half start. It turned into a 26-3 run for a 34-21 lead. The Mavs (6-6) tried to fight back, getting within nine at the end of the third but the Cougars (12-0) stayed poised in the fourth, breaking the full-court pressure for opportunities at the rim or at the free throw line. They were never threatened down the stretch.

Jordan concluded an impressive week on the offensive end, scoring 20 points on Friday after putting up 25 against Central on Tuesday. Devon Junghans nailed three treys and scored 14. Schreiber dunked twice and finished with 11 points.

A tough test awaits on Monday when the Cougars will take on Maize.