The Salina South boys basketball team is still enjoying being the No. 8 seed in the Salina Invitational Tournament.
Sophomore AJ Johnson was one of four Cougars in double figures, the defense clogged up the middle, and South took down top-seeded Abilene, 65-51. For the third straight year, South took down the No. 1 team in the opening round.
It wasn’t easy, though, as the contest was nip-and-tuck in the first three quarters. After a 23-19 halftime advantage, Abilene (6-3) turned a six-point deficit into a four-point lead following an 11-1 spurt.
South (3-6) answered with a 9-0 run, fueled by defense, allowing the Cougars to take a 37-35 cushion into the fourth quarter. South sprinted away from Abilene for good as Johnson opened the quarter with a two-handed slam and later saw his classmate Devon Junghans hit a three from the top of the arc to make it a double-digit lead.
Johnson poured in 11 of his team-high 16 points in the final stanza. Sophomore Josh Jordan provided 14 off the bench. Elex Banks had 12 while Junghans finished with 10. Abilene’s top scorer was Travis Beetch with 20.
Salina South faces No. 4 Andover in the SIT semifinals. Tipoff is slated for 6 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL.
Salina South 36, Buhler 35
South avenged an earlier 12-point defeat to Buhler by winning its third consecutive game.
Buhler (4-5) grabbed an early 4-0 lead before a 9-0 South counter that set up an 11-9 advantage after one for the Cougars. The Crusaders knotted up the score at 13-all with 6:10 to go in the first half, but South (3-6) shut out Buhler from there, pushing the lead out to 20-13 at the break.
The fourth quarter featured fireworks as Buhler roared back to go ahead 30-29 at the 5:07 mark in the game. South senior Camdyn Schreiber answered with a monster jumper, followed by a layup and three by senior Jadyn Zamecnik, putting the Cougars ahead 36-32.
South failed to close out the game, missing three front end free throws, giving Buhler the ball with 13 seconds left. The Crusaders had two shot attempts for the win, but the last was blocked by junior Tori Maxton, preserving the win.
Zamecnik paced the Cougars with 14 points. Senior Gretchen Cox poured in 10. Buhler was led by Maggie Epp with 13 while Alyvia Owens added 11.
South challenges top-seeded Liberal at 1:30 on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL. Championship bracket games take place at Mabee Arena at Kansas Wesleyan University.