5A West Playoffs: #6 Maize 60, #11 Salina South 33
Coach Ryan Stuart knew his team would be in for a tough game in the opening round of the 5A West Playoffs when his squad drew Maize, a team that had defeated them twice during the regular season. Then he found out his dynamic freshman guard, Acacia Weis, would not be able to play on Tuesday due to illness. His team gave it their all for 32 minutes, and for a while, hung with the taller and more talented Lady Eagles. But the Maize defense turned up the pressure in the second half, which allowed them to pull away for a 60-33 victory, ending the South 2019-2010 campaign at 9-12.
South started slow, falling behind 14-2 with two minutes left in the first quarter. After four free throws from Kylie Arnold, the Lady Cougars got their first and only field goal of the period on a three-pointer from senior Lauren Raubenstine with 35 seconds left. Maize would lead 17-7 going into the second quarter.
In the second period, South was able to hang around thanks to their 2-3 zone defense and forcing Maize to foul to earn trips to the free throw line. The Lady Cougars got within six late in the half, before settling for an eight-point deficit at 28-20 going to halftime. South hit eight of 11 free throws in the half compared to Maize shooting just two for five.
But like the start of the game, South could not anything going offensively early in the third quarter. Maize scored the first eight points of the period, and outscored the Lady Cougars 16-5 to build a 44-25 lead heading to the fourth.
The Lady Eagles were relentless on defense, pressuring on the perimeter to force turnovers and tough shots. With 3:07 to play and Maize leading 54-27, Coach Stuart emptied his bench for the final stretch as did Maize. South got nine points from Sydney Peterson to lead the way while Bailey Miller was strong in the post for Maize, scoring a game-high 19.
South will lose the services of two seniors: Raubenstine and Victoria Maxton. Coach Stuart praised their leadership in helping the team win nine games this season, the most since the 2012-13 campaign. A young team overall got valuable experience this season and look to come back better and stronger in 2020-21.