After defeating Andover Central 63-51 last Thursday, Salina Central knew the Jaguars would be tougher on the road.
While that part was true, the Mustangs showed a bit more grit.
Freshman Aubrie Kierscht paced three double-digit scorers with 24 points, Salina Central’s defense limited Andover Central to a pair of buckets in the third, and the Mustangs advanced to the Class 5A Sub-State championship with a 70-56 victory at Andover Central. With the win, the Mustangs secured a spot in the Sub-State title match for the eighth consecutive year.
Andover Central (12-9) showed teeth early, scoring the first seven points of the game. Salina Central kept it close, only trailing 15-11 after one.
The Jags threatened to pull away, building a seven-point advantage. Salina Central junior Kadyn Cobb refused to let that happen, sparking a 10-2 spurt with a three and a layup, putting the Mustangs on top 25-24. Both teams traded blows with the Jags being on top at the half, 33-31.
Salina Central (12-9) meant business in the third, locking up the Jaguars, preventing them from making a bucket until the 2:18 mark of the third. The real dagger was provided by Kierscht, who nailed a three while getting clipped with under second remaining. The freshman hit the free throw, completing the four-point play and giving Salina Central a 49-39 advantage.
Andover Central didn’t go away as sophomore Bailey Wilborn tried to will her team back with 15 of her game-high 34 points coming in the final period. It was too late as Salina Central went 21-of-24 from the free throw line in the last eight minutes to get the victory.
In addition to Kierscht’s 24, Cobb added 15 points. Freshman Hampton Williams chipped in 10.
Salina Central heads to Maize South Friday with a trip to state on the line. Tipoff is at 7 with pregame at 6:45 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.