The Salina South boys basketball team struggled to get in offensive rhythm early. Instead of unhinging, the Cougars remained patient and continued to lock up defensively.
That recipe not only propelled South to a win over its cross-town rival, but also put South one step closer to the Class 5A state tournament.
Salina South rallied down 12 early and forced over 20 turnovers as the Cougars shut down the Salina Central Mustangs, 46-33, Wednesday night at Salina South High School. South advances to the Sub-State #1 championship, squaring off with undefeated Hays Saturday afternoon.
While Salina South failed to make shots to start, Salina Central (7-14) was in the zone. The Mustangs raced out to a 13-1 advantage following threes by Hayden Vidrickson, Logan Losey, and Caden Kickhaefer. South turned to the transition game to finally log its first field goal. Colin Schreiber recorded a two-handed slam in traffic, making it 13-3 after the first.
The senior kickstarted South’s offense, drilling his third triple of the season, pulling the Cougars within seven. Central scored twice to make it a nine-point affair, but had issues handling the ball.
After trailing by seven, South (16-4) registered a bucket to cut the deficit to 19-14 at intermission. The final two points of the half, sparked a 13-2 spurt spanning the second and third periods. Devon Junghans nailed his first three of the night, rocketing the Cougars ahead, 25-21. Josh Jordan followed with a trey of his own, expanding the advantage to six.
Central crawled back within three, but Jordan’s last-second bucket to close the third only ignited a 16-point final frame for the Cougars.
Jordan paced the Cougars with 15 points, 13 coming in the second half. Junghans finished with 12, 11 in the final 16 minutes. Schreiber filled up the stat sheet with eight points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and five steals.
Central’s top scorers all season led the Mustangs. Reed McHenry scored 14 points while Kickhaefer ended up with 10.
Salina South travels to Hays Saturday. Tipoff at 3 pm on Y93.7.