Friday night at South High School, the Cougars went up against the Buhler Crusaders and in the case of both games, one team controlled the action most of the way, and held off a late run from the opposition to earn a win.
In the girls contest, Salina South quickly established that their quickness would outshine the height advantage that Buhler had. Perimeter ball pressure forced turnovers on defense, and dribble penetration on offense led to the most efficient shots a team can get in basketball, layups and three-point shots.
The Lady Cougars took a 14-8 lead after one quarter and stretched the lead into double figures in the second quarter, mainly thanks to suffocating defense that took Buhler out of their plan to control the ball with their passing flex offense. The South defense took charges and forced bad passes, which resulted in Buhler only scoring five points in the period. Buhler star Alyvia Owens was saddled with foul trouble which further contributed to the problems for the Lady Crusaders. Salina South went into the locker room with a 28-13 halftime lead.
The third quarter saw much of the same, as South continued to get great defense and play from their guards, especially freshman sensation Acacia Weis and sophomore Kylie Arnold. They continually harassed the Buhler guards and helped South maintain a comfortable lead. The period would end with a major highlight as Weis launched a half-court shot which found the mark by banking in off the glass to send the South gymnasium into a frenzy.
Leading 40-19, the Lady Cougars looked to get through the final period, which they were able to despite a late push from Lady Crusaders. Owens shook off the early foul trouble, scoring 11 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter but Salina South was never threatened, going on to win 51-39.
The Lady Cougars got balanced scoring as Weis led the way with 12 points. Junior Mariah Yanda came off the bench to hit three treys and score 11, while sophomore Sydney Peterson chipped in with ten and Arnold had nine. The win puts South at 2-1 overall.
The boys contest saw a similar plot play out, only with the schools reversing roles. The Buhler Crusaders, led by junior Max Alexander, a transfer from McPherson, spread the floor and continually broke down the Cougar defense with dribble drives to score or to kick to three-point shooters.
After Buhler jumped out to a 10-4 lead, South junior Josh Jordan hit back-to-back threes to tie the game up. However, the Cougar offense went stagnant for several minutes afterward, and the Crusaders went on a 12-0 run to go up by double figures and South would not be able to get within single digits the rest of the way.
Buhler led 34-19 at the half and expanded the advantage to as many as 24 in the third quarter.
With about five minutes to play, the Crusaders seemed to be in cruise control leading 59-38. But the Cougars went on an 11-0 run over the next two minutes to get within ten. Buhler took a timeout and settled down to close the game out effectively, going on to win 69-54, dropping the Cougars to 1-2.
Jordan hit six threes and led South with 26 points. Cade Hannert was the only other Cougar in double figures, he finished with ten points.
Buhler got 27 from Alexander and 15 from Isaac LaShore. The loss drops South to 1-2 overall.
The Cougar teams will be in action next Tuesday in Newton to challenge the Railers.