The Salina Central varsity basketball teams began the 2019-20 season with a trip south to Goddard High to take on the Lions. For Central girls coach Chris Fear, he was hoping his team would show their maturity in a road environment against a solid team and his squad delivered, doing the little things down the stretch to secure a 46-40 victory.
The game was a nip-and-tuck affair from start to finish. Central led 9-8 after one quarter, fell behind by as much as five in the second and trailed by four at the break, 22-18.
The Lady Mustangs got a three from sophomore sharp shooter Aubrie Kierscht to start the second half, and Central battled back to tie the score at 28 before Goddard star Kade Hackerott hit a long trey to end the third period.
In the fourth, Central took control with defensive stops and big baskets from Hampton Williams and Kierscht, whose three with one minute to go gave the Lady Mustangs a 43-37 lead. Free throws were also huge as Central converted all but one of their front ends of one-and-one foul shots to earn bonus free throws while Goddard missed a pair of front ends. The Lady Mustangs were 9 of 12 from the charity stripe in the final quarter and held the Lady Lions to only two field goals in the final eight minutes.
Kierscht led Central with 20 points on four threes and six of six from the foul line. Williams scored eight of her ten points in the second half, while Chaliscia Samilton tallied nine including a pair of free throws that preceded Kierscht’s big three-pointer late.
The boys contest played out quite differently from a competitive standpoint. The Mustangs took advantage of a highly turnover prone Goddard squad that is replacing their top seven scorers from last season, and Central coasted to a 30-point victory, 67-37.
It took Central a few minutes to get their offensive flow in gear, but took the early lead thanks to steals which led to run-outs and fastbreak baskets. Lions coach Matthew Larson burned two quick timeouts in the opening quarter as Central took a 14-4 lead.
Goddard was able to stop turning the ball over enough to get some shots up in the second quarter and they were able to get their offense going, but at the same time, the Mustangs also found a rhythm on offense with crisp ball movement which led to open jumpers or layups. Jevon Burnett and Reed McHenry combined for 27 first half points as Central took a 39-26 lead into halftime.
Early in the second half, the Mustangs left no doubt as they went on an 11-0 run, eventually doubling their halftime lead from 13 to 26 at the end of the third quarter, 57-31. Defense was the story as the Lions continued to turn the ball over at a high rate.
About midway through the fourth, Central reserve Nathan Farmer hit a three to initiate a running clock and in all, eight different Mustangs would score in the contest. McHenry led all scorers with 21, Burnett had all 14 of his points in the first half, he and the other starters made it a point to get their teammates involved in the second half. Goddard got 14 points apiece from Jackson LeFevre and Cameron Moses but not much from anyone else.
The Mustang teams are back in action next Friday against Great Bend in the home openers.