SALINA — Salina South's boys had to make up for lost time, and did they ever.
After eight scoreless minutes in the third and fourth quarters put them in the 15-point hole, the Cougars suddenly found their second wind. Even then, they needed overtime to knock off Hays, 64-62, Tuesday night at the South gym.
"We always keep our heads up," said South sophomore forward Colin Schreiber, who scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. "We put enough pressure on them and got enough transition buckets to get back in the game."
South used a 9-2 run to pull away in overtime, and despite going 1 of 7 from the free-throw line, held on for the victory to improve to 6-7. The Cougars won their third straight and fifth in the last six while Hays fell to 6-6.
The Cougars' backs were against the wall three minutes into the fourth quarter when a Dalyn Schwarz free throw put Hays up 46-31, capping an 18-point run that included eight to close the third period and 10 more to start the fourth. South had led 31-28 with 5:10 to go in the third.
But at the 4:47 mark of the fourth, AJ Johnson hit two free throws to end the drought and South suddenly was off to the races. Two Schreiber three-point plays sandwiched around a Devon Junghans layup cut it to 46-41 at the 3:14 mark.
Schreiber added two more foul shots — South was 8 of 8 from the line in the quarter — cut it to three, and after Tradgon McCrae ended Hays' drought with a free throw, Conner Munsell drained a 3-pointer and Johnson converted two straight layups to put South up 50-47 to cap a 19-1 run.
McCrae's three-point play with 18.4 seconds left forced the overtime.
"During one of the timeouts, everybody started encouraging each other and it just went from there," said Johnson, who scored six points in the fourth quarter and four in overtime to finish with 15.
The Cougars also got 14 points and 11 rebounds from Elex Banks and 11 points from Junghans. McCrae had 35 points, with TJ Nunnery and Schwarz each adding eight for Hays.
"I thought South made some plays," Hays coach Rick Keltner said. "We've got some younger guys that haven't been in those kinds of games before, but I thought we played hard.
"It was a heck of a basketball game. When we went up 14 in the fourth quarter, I thought that was some of the best basketball we had played all year. We're not the first team in history to have a lead like that on the other team's home court and lose."
South made 5 of 6 shots from the field in overtime to 4 of 9 for Hays, and the Indians did not shoot a free throw in the extra period. Schreiber was 3 for 3 in the extra period with a 3-pointer.
"We did not play very well, but luckily with found ourselves in the fourth quarter, where we were able to execute a few sets and get them sped up a little," said South coach Jason Hooper, whose Cougars forced six Hays turnovers in the fourth period and 22 for the game.
South girls 54, Hays 49 (OT)
South got a late basket by Camdyn Schreiber, then survived three straight misses by Hays in the closing seconds to force overtime.
From there, the Cougars trailed just once, grabbing the lead for good on a pair of Victoria Maxton baskets and two Kylie Arnold free throws to hold off the Indians.
"I thought the big key for us was making sure we didn't turn the ball over against their press," said South coach Ryan Stuart, whose Cougars improved to 4-8 while Hays fell to 8-4. "And we got beat up pretty bad on the offensive glass in the first half, but in the second half we did a much better job on the defensive boards."
Hays took its only lead in overtime, 46-45, on Jaycee Dale's inside basket with 2:55 left. South then got three cracks at the basket with Maxton scoring inside to put her team in front for good. She added a free-throw line jumper at the 1:55 mark, and Arnold's foul shots stretched it to 51-46 at the 1:12 mark.
"Rebounds were big," said Maxton, who came off the bench to grab six rebounds to go with nine points. "That's what we wanted to do."
South outrebounded Hays in the second half, but the Indians had a 42-39 advantage overall, led by Tasiah Nunnery, Kallie Leiker and Brooke Denning with six each. Gretchen Cox led South with 10 and also had 12 points.
Schreiber led South with 17 points, hitting 6 of 7 shots in the first half, and two big free throws in overtime.
"I was trying to look for my shot more, especially when it was going in," Schreiber said. "Once they reacted to that I was able to find Gretchen and (Maxton) in the post."
Hays scored the last seven points of the first half to tie the game at 25 and six more to open the third quarter. But South clawed back in it.
"Our issue was our hustle and our heart tonight," said Hays coach Alex Hutchins. "Those have been the strengths of this team so far.
"Unfortunately tonight we didn't do those things.
Hays was led by Savannah Schneider with 15 points and Dale with 12, while Denning scored 10 off the bench.