Salina Central’s quest for a third straight 5A state tournament appearance continues after a 61-56 win over Kapaun Mt. Carmel in the opening round of sub-state.
The Mustangs couldn’t miss early, and buried five three-pointers in the first quarter. Sophomore guard Kaydn Cobb had three of the trifecta’s, and Central built a six point lead, 20-14 at the end of one.
Salina Central built a 32-23 lead with 1:31 left in the second quarter, but Kapaun answered with a quick 6-0 run. All six points came from Mid-America Nazarene commit Anna Rollston. Clinging to a three point lead in the closing seconds, Central raced the ball up the floor, and found Elisa Backes, who drained a top of the key three at the buzzer. The Mustangs led 35-29 at halftime.
Salina Central out-rebounded Kapaun by seven in the first half, but the Lady Crusaders pounded Central on the glass in the third quarter. Despite the rebounding discrepancy, Salina Central still led 51-45 at the end of the third quarter.
The Mustangs got back to business defensively in the final frame. Central held Kapan scoreless for nearly three minutes, and built a 57-45 lead with 3:51 to go. Kapaun fought back from the foul line, but never got closer than five the rest of the way.
Backes led Central with 18 points, while Cobb had 14. Selah Merkle also finished in double figures with 12.
Salina Central travels to Newton for the sub-state championship on Saturday. Coverage can be heard on 1150 KSAL.