HHS girls no match for Salina Central
By KLINT SPILLER
The Salina Central girls' basketball team might not be ranked now, but the Mustangs demonstrated Tuesday why they were the No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A in the preseason.
Central crushed Hays High 69-36 with an impressive offensive performance.
The Mustangs made 27 of 61, including 9 of 22 from beyond the arc.
"They play well," said Hays High head coach Kirk Maska. "They play together. They shot the ball well. We gave them our best effort, and it was obvious that it wasn't near good enough."
Central is composed primarily of juniors that have played together since they were in second grade, and their chemistry was evident Tuesday.
Central repeatedly found its players open whether it was in transition or through its motion offense, making the game almost look easy.
"They have great court awareness," Maska said. "They move all the time. They found the open man over and over and over again. We got caught standing time and time again."
Central improved to 10-5 while Hays High dropped its third in a row and fell to 6-9.
The Mustangs dropped out of the KBCA 5A rankings this week for the second time this season following a 43-31 loss to Newton.
Central head coach Geoff Andrews said the rankings don't mean much to his squad, but still, the Mustangs wanted to make a statement that they were better than they had been playing.
"We wanted to show everyone we were a better team than what we were showing the past couple of games," said junior guard MacKenzie Morris. "I think we really did that all around the court tonight."
Three Mustangs finished in double figures.
Junior point guard Emily Wood made 6 of 12 shots and 5 of 9 3-pointers to lead her squad with 18 points.
Morris added 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and junior forward Hailey Mayfield added 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
"It makes the coach look at lot smarter when you're knocking down shots," Andrews said.
Hays High contained Central's 6-foot-1 junior forward, Shaelyn Martin, to just nine points, but Martin, who orally committed to Kansas State University in 2011, had a solid game, also recording a team-high nine rebounds.
No Indians reached double figures, but senior forward Taylor Herman led the squad with eight points on 4-of-8 shooting.
Senior forward Emily Braun and senior guard Megan Bird, who made her first appearance since sitting out with a stress fracture, tied for the team lead in rebounds with five.
Central dominated the game from the start, jumping out to a 12-0 lead, and never took its foot off the gas pedal, increasing its lead every quarter.
After witnessing Central's offensive prowess, Maska said it's surprising Central has lost five times.
"It's kind of scary the teams that have beaten them," he said.
A homecoming for Andrews
Andrews, a 2001 Ellis High School graduate, said he's like the mayor because he knows "so many people" around Ellis County.
Friends, family and former coaches watched Andrews as he led the Mustangs in the HHS gym.
"It's really fun to come back and play close around them," he said.
Andrews moved to Ellis prior to his freshman year of high school, but wanting to go to a larger school, he attended Hays High for the first nine weeks.
Maska actually was Andrews' health teacher when he was a freshman.
"It's fun because we both got the head jobs at the same time," he said. "We've been calling each other and talking to each other about strategy and program building stuff."
However, the drive from Ellis combined with having to wait at his father's work made Andrews decide to transfer to Ellis High School where he played under longtime coach Chris Rorabaugh, who actually returned to the school this season.
Andrews then attended Kansas State University and got a job teaching at Salina Central.
He started as an assistant coach under head coach Doug Finch before getting hired as the girls' head coach.
Andrews said Central's connection to western Kansas is strong in basketball. He's an Ellis graduate. Finch is a Natoma graduate and has coached at several schools in western Kansas. Not only that, but the junior class's youth basketball coach, Wood's father, is a Hays High alumnus.
Prior to Andrews, Central hadn't had a winning season in many years, but in Andrews' four years there, he has yet to post a losing record and set the school record in wins last season, going 19-4.
"It's been exciting," he said. "We've got a great group of girls."