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Central girls pick up first win in AVCTL-II play

Dylan Sherwood
dsherwood@salina.com
Salina Central's Mykayla Cunningham (24) puts up a shot during Tuesday's game against Goodard Eisenhower at the Central gym.

There was some fuel added to the fire for the Central girls heading into its first game in AVCTL-II play against Goddard Eisenhower Tuesday night.

After Eisenhower upset the Mustangs inside the Brickhouse back in March in a Class 5A sub-state semifinal, they wanted revenge.

Central was able to get it behind 36 combined points from sophomore Mykayla Cunningham and junior Aubrie Kierscht in a 52-42 victory over the Tigers. The win improved the Mustangs to 2-0 and 1-0 in AVCTL-II play.

“Coach (Chris Fear) started practice (on Monday) with, ’They got us last year,’ and of course, we wanted redemption,” said junior Hampton Williams who scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. “After we (won), all we could do is celebrate.”

Even with Kierscht and Cunningham leading the way, Central was able to shoot 50% from the field and led from wire-to-wire. That included a 9-3 advantage after one, 24-10 at halftime and 41-25 through three.

“I think we were pretty efficient on offense,” Fear said. “When we were able to get shots, we were able to knock them in, and this team can do that. Once we were able to wear them down a little bit, get out there to 20 and in that fourth quarter, I thought it was a pretty solid game for us.”

All of Kierscht’s points came after she was held scoreless in the first quarter, but Cunningham made up for that.

“We understand that teams are going to try and take Aubrie away,” Fear said. “Their defense is going to go there, and that’s going to leave some talented players with some opportunities, and I thought that’s what happened early.

“Mykayla got to the basket (Tuesday), and I thought in transition, we had the advantage there when we got there. We want to run (and) put pressure on the defense. I think eventually we wore them down.”

Eisenhower dropped to 1-1 and 0-1 in AVCTL-II play was led by Addi Verbeck’s 12 points. The Tigers were held to 40% from the field.

EISENHOWER BOYS 45, CENTRAL 36

It wasn’t the performance Ryan Modin wanted from the Salina Central boys.

Despite being within three points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers were able to close out with a 12-6 run to pick the victory to improve to 1-1 and 1-0 in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II play. Central dropped to 0-2 and 0-1 in AVCTL-II.

“I’m embarrassed by the way we performed, embarrassed with how I coached,” Modin said. “I failed them (Tuesday), because we weren’t ready to play in that game in any shape or form. We weren’t ready.

“There’s no excuses for it. We made a lot of stupid plays. I felt like we took a huge stepback from Friday.”

Central did score the first points of the first quarter, but Eisenhower went on an 11-0 run to take an 11-4 lead after one.

The Mustangs were able to stick around in the second and pulled within three, 21-18, at halftime. Like in the first, Central responded with the first points of third, however, Eisenhower closed the quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 29-24 lead heading into the fourth.

Central pulled within three on four different occasions in the fourth, but after the third time, Eisenhower was able to make enough plays to pull away for the win.

“I didn’t think we played well, and that’s the difference,” Modin said. “You play somebody close and you don’t play well, you’re not that pleased with it.”

Eisenhower was led by Nick Hogan’s game-high 23 points and eight rebounds. Central senior Reed McHenry had 18 to lead the way for the Mustangs. Neither team shot the ball well with the Tigers finishing the game at 36% and Central at 31%.

Central will host Salina South on Friday inside the Brickhouse.

Salina Central's Micah Moore (32) Salina Central drives past Eisenhower's Tyler Roth during Tuesday's game at the Brickhouse.