BOYS: South 58, Maize 55
Frustrated after five consecutive losses, many of them by wide margins, the Salina South boys basketball team did something about it on Friday night. They executed and played their best game of the season, and out of the blue knocked off the unbeaten, top-ranked and defending state champion Maize Eagles.
During the losing skid, one key theme was the team getting off to slow starts and facing sizable deficits right away. That did not happen in Maize. South led 5-0 early before Maize tied it at 7-7. The Cougars then went on a 10-1 run to build a nine-point lead. The Eagles would chip away to only trail by three at the end of the first quarter, and then outscored South 17-10 in the second to take a 31-27 lead at halftime.
Maize extended to a 39-31 lead with five minutes left in the third and then suddenly the Cougars made a charge, going on a 12-0 run to grab the lead back. The run was capped by back-to-back threes from Quevon Purucker and Te’Jon McDaniel. South took a 45-43 lead into the fourth. The Eagles would go back in front 52-49 but South had one last push in them.
Trailing by one, Edgar Garcia was fouled. He missed both free throws but Zach Davidson kept the ball alive for the Cougars and seconds later, Garcia splashed in a 17-footer to give South a 53-52 lead at the two minute mark. The Cougars then got a pair of defensive stops and made 3 of 4 foul shots to go up 56-52 with 19 seconds to play. Maize’s Kyle Grill nailed a three at the top of the key to cut it to one with 9.1 seconds. McDaniel was fouled and went to the line with 7.2 seconds to go. After air-balling a free throw earlier in the quarter, and with the Eagle student section jeering him, he coolly converted two from the line to make it 58-55. The Eagles had one final chance but Avery Johnson’s three missed off the back iron at the buzzer.
The Cougars (2-5) were a little shorthanded due to illness and only 6 players saw action. But they all stepped up and played a part in the victory. Four scored in double figures. Garcia and McDaniel each scored 16, and Davidson along with Devin Myers each chipped in with ten points. The Eagles (6-1) got 14 points from Jaden Gustafson and a dozen each from Grill and Sam Schmidt.
GIRLS: Maize 60, South 34
The Maize girls used a 12-0 run to start the game to spur them to victory on their home floor Friday night. Not only did they start the game well, but throughout the contest they were deadly from the perimeter. Madison Lambert hit six treys and the Eagles as a team hit 11 three-pointers. Lambert would lead all scorers with 22 points.
The Cougars played better after the rough start and Kalysa Hamel’s buzzer-beating three going into halftime had the Cougars within 14 at the break. But they were not able to make a dent in the deficit in the third quarter and the Eagles pulled away for a comfortable victory and moved to 4-3 overall.
South (1-6) got nine points each from Hamel and Lauren Harris. Harris played well, establishing great post position throughout the game to set up scoring opportunities.
The Cougar teams will finally get to play at home again next Tuesday when they battle Newton.