The eye of the tiger proved to be too much.
Freshman Addi Verbeck poured in 25 points, Eisenhower responded to every bucket in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers pulled off the upset of No. 8 Salina Central, 57-51, in the Class 5A sub-state semifinal Wednesday night inside the Brickhouse. With the loss, Central’s eight-year streak of making it to the sub-state championship came to an end as the Mustangs closed the season 15-6.
Salina Central controlled the opening eight minutes, relying on defense to create an advantage. Eisenhower didn’t register its first field goal until a minute to go. Sophomore Aubrie Kierscht finished off the first frame with a trey, expanding the Central margin to 14-8.
Kierscht and the Mustangs didn’t stop there, pushing the lead out to 11, 22-11, in the second period. Eisenhower didn’t go away. Verbeck, who was held scoreless in the first, drained a pair of threes, the last to pull the Tigers to within 27-20 at halftime.
At intermission, Eisenhower found all the right answers. The Tigers increased pressure and started to drive to the rim. While the Tigers were successful attacking the cup, they relied on Verbeck’s big night, who hit three of her six triples in the third period.
After grabbing a 40-37 lead at the end of the third, Eisenhower kept using its recipe to build a seven-point cushion. Salina Central kept trying to claw back into the game, but the Tigers had every answer in the form of offensive rebounds on missed free throws, drives to the rim or free throws.
Kierscht paced Salina Central with 18 points, just six coming in the second half, all coming in the fourth. Sophomores Hampton Williams and Chaliscia Samilton each added 10 points.