Kierscht’s 29 Propels Central Girls to Victory; Boys Run Out of Gas Late

GIRLS: Central 57, Valley Center 37

Aubrie Kierscht scored 29 points and the short-handed Central Lady Mustangs built a double-figure first half lead and coasted to a 57-37 win at Valley Center on Tuesday.

Just a short time before the Mustangs got on the bus to travel for the game, they found out that starting guard Mykayla Cunningham and reserve forward Madison Freeman would be held out of action for the remainder of the week due to a potential COVID-19 exposure. While that was not good news for Central, the rest of the team responded by delivering a solid performance on the road.

The game went back and forth to start, but the Hornets’ last lead came at 9-8 with three minutes to play in the first quarter. The Mustangs turned up the pressure defensively and finished the period on an 8-0 run to lead 16-9.

Then, Kierscht went off. She scored in a variety of ways in the second quarter, but her biggest impact came on the defensive end. Whether off a steal or a deflection, she helped start several fast-break opportunities and that propelled Central to a double-figure lead. Kierscht also hit three three-pointers in the quarter, scoring 17 points in all for a 22-point first half. She was nearly keeping up with the Hornets’ entire team as Central led 37-24 at the break.

The Mustangs picked up where they left off to start the third, scoring the first six points to build the lead to 19. Valley Center battled, but never got closer than 14 the rest of the way. While Central’s offense fell flat in the fourth quarter, they were even better in stymieing the Hornets, who scored just three points in the final period.

Kierscht finished with 29 points, Landry Stewart and Chaliscia Samilton each chipped in with six points for Central, who improved to 6-1 overall. Valley Center dropped to 3-5.

BOYS: Valley Center 56, Central 41

The Mustangs found out on Monday that they would be without their senior leader Reed McHenry this week due to a potential COVID-19 exposure, and when you go on the road to play a good team without your top scorer, it can be easy to think that things won’t go well. But, to the Mustangs’ credit, they came to play on Tuesday at Valley Center. However, a second-half run from the Hornets’ coupled with Central going cold down the stretch proved to be costly in a 56-41 defeat.

Central started very well with Kenyon McMillan nailing a three on the opening possession. He hit another trey later in the period as the Mustangs were sharp on both ends of the court in building a ten-point lead before Valley trimmed the lead to seven at 16-9 at the end of the first quarter.

The two sides traded baskets to start the second period, and down 18-11, the Hornets came to life by turning the Mustangs over repeatedly and turning that into an 11-0 run for a 22-18 lead. It seemed that everything was spiraling out of control for Central but they settled down and stayed close for a while.

Valley Center led 29-27 at the break, and the Mustangs continued to stay close in the third by getting several defensive stops. Logan Losey’s layup gave Central a 34-33 lead with three minutes left in the period. But things would go sour after that.

The Hornets scored on back-to-back trips to regain the lead and eventually take a 41-34 lead to the fourth. Again, the Mustangs played hard defensively and were only down 46-41 with just under four minutes to go. However, the shots just wouldn’t drop and soon Central had to start gambling defensively for steals. Valley Center took advantage and got easy baskets. They closed on a 10-0 run to win by 15.

Micah Moore led Central with 11 points, and McMillan added 10. The Mustangs dropped to 1-6 overall while the Hornets improved to 7-1. Next up for Central will be a home matchup with the Goddard Lions on Friday.