In its previous game, the young Salina Central boys basketball team couldn’t find a way to make plays down the stretch.
Facing the same scenario, the Mustangs thrived.
Trailing by five in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs locked down defensively, drilled shots and hit clutch free throws, capping an 11-0 burst that gave Salina Central a 52-46 victory over Valley Center Tuesday night inside the Brickhouse. The win pushed Central’s record above .500 at 2-1.
Central started the game by logging the first five points. Valley Center (2-2) didn’t flinch, firing back with a 6-0 spurt. Salina Central responded, building a 23-12 advantage in the second period.
The Hornets stung back, scoring the final 15 points of the half, grabbing a 27-23 lead at halftime.
Valley Center threatened to pull away, but much like Friday, Salina Central had a charge left. The Mustangs closed the gap of a seven-point deficit, registering a 9-2 push to knot up the score at 38-38 through three periods.
Salina Central ran into trouble, falling behind 46-41 in the final stanza. However, the Mustangs never quit. Junior Reed McHenry teamed up with sophomore Nolan Puckett, sinking key free throw after key free throws. McHenry also had a huge offensive rebound on a missed free throw with Central leading by just one.
McHenry paced the Mustangs with 21 points. Puckett added nine while senior Christian Tedlock chipped in eight.
Jakob Byrne poured in 16 for Valley Center.
SALINA CENTRAL 63, VALLEY CENTER 33
Only five players scored for Salina Central, but each contributor shined for a quarter.
Sophomore Chaliscia Samilton and senior Kadyn Cobb set the tone to start. Central (3-0) logged the first 10 points of the game, although led just 15-8 after one. Seven of Samilton’s 11 points came in the opening quarter while Cobb made connected on two threes, en route to a season-best 12 points.
Sophomore Aubire Kierscht and freshman Mykayla Cunningham teamed up to create separation in the ensuing period. Central pushed its cushion to 36-21 at the break as Kierscht hit a pair of triples and Cunningham added three buckets. Kierscht finished with 14 points and Cunningham ended up with 12.
Sophomore Hampton Williams made sure Valley Center (1-3) didn’t stage a comeback. Williams poured in six of her 14 in the third as the Mustangs had a running clock in the fourth.
Salina Central heads across town to face Salina South on Friday. Coverage begins at 5:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL and Y93.7.