Ell-Saline entered play Thursday evening seeking an opportunity to play for the championship at the 44th Annual Canton-Galva Boys’ Basketball Tournament. First though, the Cardinals found themselves seeking something far different.
Some miscommunication regarding the proper-colored uniform the Cardinals were to wear for their semifinal-round matchup with the Wichita Home School Warriors left some Cardinal players scrambling to find jerseys leading up to tipoff, while others were left to don threads other than their own. The confusion appeared to cause a lack of focus early in the ballgame – an opportunity Wichita seized on almost immediately.
Following a three-point basket from Ell-Saline senior Tel Phelps on the Cardinals first possession, Wichita reeled off 14 unanswered points. By the time the first half had drawn to a close, the Warriors had forced 13 Ell-Saline turnovers while racking up 49 points to take a 49-20 lead into the locker room.
The Cardinals found their rhythm in the second half, outscoring Wichita 38-29 after the break, but the deficit was simply too great to overcome as the Warriors rolled to a 78-58 victory.
Ell-Saline (4-8) was led by senior Hunter Kindlesparger, who finished with 14 points, 12 of those coming in the second half. Sophomore Kaden Griffin hit double digits for the second consecutive game, tallying 13 points, while junior Patrick Giersch collected a season-high nine points, all in the second half.
Wichita (12-1) freshman Winston Bing put up 22 points to lead all scorers on the night, while a trio of Warrior juniors each finished in double digits as well, with Grant Mellinger scoring 18, Judah Townsend 14 and Marshall Masterson ten, respectively.
The Cardinals will try to salvage third place in the eight-team tournament on Friday evening as they face off with a familiar foe, Heart of America League rival, Bennington.