The Ell-Saline Cardinals carried the momentum of a Tuesday doubleheader sweep at Ellinwood into Saturday’s Heart of America vs. Central Plains League Challenge matchups at McPherson College in McPherson.
On paper, both the boys’ and girls’ from Ell-Saline and their respective opponents appeared to be evenly matched. The Cardinal boys entered the afternoon at 2-3, squaring off with a 2-3 Medicine Lodge squad, while the Ell-Saline girls came in at 1-4 on the season, as did their opponent, the Belle Plaine Dragons.
The boys tipped things off first, and for Medicine Lodge, the game plan appeared to be simple: Attack the basket on offense, and defensively, make anyone other than Ell-Saline’s 6’2″ senior post and leading scorer Mason Farrell beat you. The Indians accomplished both in the first half, jumping out to a 17-6 lead after the first quarter, then extending that advantage to 29-17 at the half, while keeping Farrell out of scoring column through numerous consistently doubling down on the Cardinal post out of the Indians zone defense.
At halftime, Ell-Saline changed up the game plan to take away dribble penetration opportunities for Medicine Lodge. While the Cards did indeed force the Indians to beat them from the perimeter, junior guard Garrett Burden was ready for the challenge, connecting on three 3-point buckets on his way to 18 second-half points and a 58-42 Medicine Lodge win.
Burden and Honas combined for 40 of the 58 points scored by Medicine Lodge (3-3) on the night, with Burden going for 24 to claim game-high honors. Honas added 16.
For Ell-Saline (2-4) Farrell led the way despite the first-half goose egg, finishing with nine points, while sophomore Sawyer Kramer added eight. Seniors Hunter Kindlesparger, Spencer Came and Nathan Parks finished the afternoon with seven, six and five points, respectively.
In the girls’ game, Ell-Saline led the Belle Plaine Dragons at the half 18-14, but were outscored 21-7 in the second half while turning it over 13 times after the break, helping to fuel a 35-25 comeback victory for Belle Plaine.
Neither team was able to develop any true momentum in a game that featured 40 combined turnovers and more than two dozen stoppages of play due to dual possession calls.
Belle Plaine (2-4) was led by sophomore Lea Morel, who earned game-high scoring honors with 17 point, while freshman Cheyenne Cooper added nine.
Senior Lexi Kochanowski led the Cardinal offense with ten points, while freshmen Reece Ditto and Lakyn Short each chipped in four points apiece in the Ell-Saline (1-5) loss. Sophomore Ashton Travis, coming off a 26-point effort against Ellinwood on Tuesday, was held scoreless on the afternoon.
Both Cardinal squads return to Brookville to open up Heart of America League play this coming Tuesday against the Inman Teutons. Varsity action is slated to begin with the girls’ matchup at 6:00pm, with the boys’ battle to follow.