The Salina South boys’ valiant comeback attempt came just a little late as the 5-seed Andover beat the Cougars, 54-49 in the semi-finals of the SIT on Friday night.
Much like most of the season, South would dig themselves too deep of a hole to get out of after a dismal start. In the first quarter, the Cougars would turn the ball over and not play good enough defense. Andover would capitalize with an 18-6 lead at the end of the first.
The Trojans would continue their dominance midway through the second stanza, as Andover’s largest lead would culminate to 30-11 over South.
However, that’s when the South rally began. Slowly but surely, South would cut in to the Andover margin. The Cougars would end the first half on an 8-0 run to get back to within 11 at halftime, trailing 30-19.
In the second half, just like the Goodland game the night prior, Salina South would get good performances from A.J. Johnson and Elex Banks.
Johnson would weave around the Andover defense in the second half on his way to a 10 point performance–his second double-figure outing in-a-row, while Banks would continue to own the glass and get key tip-ins off of South misses.
South would end the third period with a Joey Wilson 3-pointer to cut the Andover lead to 8 points, 40-32.
Andover seemed to have control of the 4th quarter however, South couldn’t get over the hump to cut the Trojan lead to less than 10 points until under 2-minutes to go.
Isaac Mitchell would contribute on a few big buckets, while Cai Calvert hit a 3-pointer with under one minute to trim the Andover lead to four, 51-47.
Unfortunately, the final furious rally came too late for the Cougars, as Andover would make enough FTs to make their way to the SIT championship on Saturday night.
Andover (6-5, 3-2 AVCTL-II) was led by three scorers in double-figures, including Braden Johnson with 16 points, Andrew Gagnon with 12 points and Eli Fahnestock added 10.
Salina South (2-9, 1-5 AVCTL-I) was led by Banks’ 11 points–his third consecutive double-figure output. However, the Salina Ortho “Player of the Game” was Mitchell who scored 7 points and had several key rebounds to get the Cougars back in the game. 8-seed Salina South heads to the SIT 3rd place game on Saturday played at 3:45 p.m against the 3-seed, Buhler.
Liberal 47, SALINA SOUTH 26
The Salina South Cougars girls’ basketball team appeared to run out of gas against a really solid Liberal squad in the 1/5 seed semi-final match up of the SIT.
South would play Liberal tough in the first quarter, as the Cougars at one point held a 6-4 lead midway through. Liberal though, would hold a 9-6 lead after the first.
Liberal continued their momentum in to the second quarter, led by their match-up zone defense, Salina South would be held to just a 4 point quarter and trailed 17-10 at halftime.
Salina South would come out in the second half, led by Gretchen Cox and trim the Redskins’ lead down to 4 points at 20-16. However, that would be the closest South would get as Liberal would pull away for the rest of the game.
Liberal (10-1) was paced by two main scorers in double-figures including, Ali Lucero with 15 points and Katie Horyna scored 14. The Lady Redskins advance to face Salina Central in the SIT championship game on Saturday night.
Salina South (3-7, 1-5 AVCTL-I) was led by Cox’s 8 points. Cox also finished as the Salina Ortho “Player of the Game.”
Both Salina South girls’ and boys’ teams play in the SIT 3rd place game on Saturday afternoon. The girls’ will face 2-seed, Abilene at 2 p.m., while the boys’ play Buhler at 3:45. Both games are at KWU’s Mabee Arena and can be heard live on Y93.7.