Denning’s late three lifts Mustangs to playoff win

FINAL: (10) Salina Central 40, (7) Goddard-Eisenhower 37

The first two meetings between Salina Central and Eisenhower were decided by a combined two points, and those two games saw a total of three overtimes, so it’s safe to say the two schools were about as evenly matched as possible.

Well, as fate would have it, the two teams got to meet up one final time on Tuesday night, in the first round of the Kansas Class 5A Sub-State Playoffs, with the Eisenhower Tigers as the host. The 7-seed Tigers knew they’d have their hands full based on the previous meetings, but this contest saw a different outcome.

No overtime was necessary, thanks to Junior Elle Denning’s last-second corner three that lifted the Mustangs to a 40-37 win.

Central forced a turnover with just under 40 seconds to play in the game, and with the score tied, Central ran the clock down to 12 seconds before taking a timeout. Central Head Coach Chris Fear went to the white board and drew up his best play, which was set for Junior Guard Callan Hall to “just go make a play,” as Coach Fear put it, in his post game interview.

And make a play she did. Hall weaved through multiple Eisenhower defenders, drove just inside the lane, and as a second defender collapsed on her inside, Hall noticed her teammate wide open in the corner. She delivered the pass right on target, and Denning took care of the rest, knocking down the jumper with just less than two seconds to play. Eisenhower would never get a chance for a Hail Mary, and the Mustangs clinched their spot in the 5A Sub-State Finals on Friday night.

Tyler Vidricksen and Callan Hall each led Central offensively with 10 points apiece, while Denning added 8, and both Brynn O’Hara and Azbey Peckham scored 6 in the victory. Salina Central improved to 11-10 on the season, the 14th-straight season that Salina Central Girls Basketball has tallied double-digit wins.

Now, Central, the 10-seed in the 5A West bracket will turn their attention to yet another familiar foe in the Andover Trojans. The 2-seed in the bracket, and one of the favorites for the 5A State Title. The two teams will face off on Friday night at 7 PM at Andover High School, with the winner advancing to the State Tournament in Emporia next week.

Nex-Tech Wireless Player(s) of the Game: Tyler Vidricksen and Callan Hall

H & R Block of the Game: Brynn O’Hara