The Ell-Saline Cardinals hit the road Friday evening, traveling to Elbing to square off with the Berean Academy Warriors in Heart of America League action on the hardwood.
The house was packed for Berean’s winter homecoming, and the Warriors sent the crowd home happy with a pair of league victories.
In the girls’ matchup, Ell-Saline came out fighting hard against a talented Berean bunch, trailing 7-4 with just a couple minutes remaining in the opening frame. The Warriors closed out the period on an 8-0 run to take a 15-4 lead, then poured it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Cards 25-5 to go into halftime with a 40-9 advantage.
After extending the advantage to 52-14 after the third quarter, a running-clock fourth quarter kept points at a premium, with the two teams combining for just three points over the last eight minutes in a 54-15 Warrior victory.
Berean Academy (9-1, 2-1) was led in scoring by Salina Ortho player of the game, senior Ashtyn Wiebe, who finished with 16 points on the night. Junior Clara Eldridge hit double digits with 11 points, while junior Mallory Wiebe and sophomore Courtney Slabach added nine points apiece.
Ell-Saline (1-9, 0-4) got five points from freshman Reece Ditto, with senior Lexi Kochanowski contributing four points.
Third Quarter Drought Dooms Cardinal Boys
In the nightcap, Ell-Saline looked to deal Berean Academy its first loss of the season. The senior guard duo of Hunter Kindlesparger and Tel Phelps were sizzling at the outset, combining for 18 of Ell-Saline’s 20 first-half points. The pair helped to keep the Cards close, while a balanced Warrior offensive attack helped the Warriors claim a 26-20 lead by halftime.
The Cardinal defense had its best quarter of the ballgame coming out of the locker room, holding Berean to just seven third quarter points. However, Ell-Saline went ice cold from the field in the third, failing to put a single point on the scoreboard as the Warriors extended their lead to 13 points, 33-20.
Ell-Saline found its offense in the final stanza, trimming the Berean lead down to six points late, but the Warriors held serve at the free throw line, connecting on six of eight charity tosses in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 43-34 victory.
Berean Academy (10-0, 3-0) was led by a pair of seniors, as Toby Penner and Clayton Rust finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Ell-Saline (3-7, 1-3) received a spirited effort from Kindlesparger. The Salina Ortho player of the game finished with 16 on the night to lead all scorers, while Phelps finished with eight points. Senior post Mason Farrell added six.