Girls: Central 67, Abilene 34
Aubrie Kierscht hit seven three-pointers and led all scorers with 23 points as the Central Mustangs moved to 9-0 with a convincing victory over the Abilene Cowgirls (1-9) to begin play at the 43rd Salina Invitational Tournament.
Central’s full-court press forced early turnovers and allowed them to jump ahead right away. Abilene would settle in and work in some high-percentage scoring chances later in the quarter but by that time, Kierscht was heating up. Abilene played a 2-3 zone and that opened up the perimeter for her to fire away from deep. The Mustangs led 21-8 after one quarter and pushed the margin to 27 at the half, 45-18.
The Cowgirls battled and played a solid game on the offensive end, it just was not nearly enough to keep up. Central led 61-28 after three quarters and the final period was played with a running clock.
Chaliscia Samilton added 10 points for the Mustangs and Abilene was led by Jenna Hayes, who hit a pair of threes and scored eight points.
Central moves to the winners bracket where they will play Concordia at 6:00pm Friday at Mabee Arena. Concordia defeated Wichita West 41-39 on Thursday. Abilene will play Wichita West at 3:00pm Friday at Salina South.
Boys: Central 55, Abilene 53
In a back-and-forth affair that was uglier than it was pretty most of the way, the Central Mustangs outlasted the Abilene Cowboys at the Brickhouse on Thursday.
Sid Duplessis IV hit two free throws with 3.7 seconds to play to break a 53-all tie. He finished with 18 points for the Mustangs and Nolan Puckett led all scorers with 19. Kaleb Becker led Abilene with 15 points.
Central led most of the first half, and by as many as eight (24-16) in the second quarter. But the Mustangs would go cold late in the half, and the Cowboys finished on a 14-4 run to take a two-point lead at halftime.
The second half was nip-and-tuck all the way. At no point did either team lead by two possessions. There were numerous ties and lead changes. Both teams had chances to grab momentum but failed to do so. It came down to the final possession. Duplessis began to drive to the hoop and was forced to his left when a reach-in foul was called, putting him at the line where he rattled in the first free throw and swished the second. A half-court heave from the Cowboys missed the mark at the buzzer.
The Mustangs will meet a familiar foe in the SIT semis: the Andover Trojans. It will be the second meeting of the season between the two, Andover won 61-49 earlier this month on their home floor. Friday’s matchup will be at Mabee Arena at 7:30pm. The Trojans ran past Liberal 74-45 at the Brickhouse on Thursday. Abilene will play at Salina South at 4:30pm Friday against Liberal.