Salina Central's boys used a swarming defense and a strong rebounding effort Friday night to shut down Hays' inside game on the way to a 54-33 victory over the Indians at the Central gym.
The Mustangs took control with a seven-point run midway through the opening quarter, led 22-11 at the end of the period and Hays never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
With the victory, Central improved to 5-7, while Hays fell to 8-4.
Central had nobody taller than 6-foot-2 on the floor, yet limited Hays' 6-10 center Dylan Ruder and 6-6 forward Dalyn Schwarz to a combined 2 for 13 shooting while outrebounding the Indians, 39-28.
Jevon Burnett led a balanced Central attack with 11 points and 12 rebounds, while Reed McHenry added eight points and eight boards. Logan Losey also had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Mustangs shot 44.4% from the field and knocked down 6 of 21 from 3-point range while holding Hays to 27.6% overall and 3 for 21 (14.3%) beyond the arc.
Hays led 6-5 on an inside basket by Jace Linenberger with 5:45 left in the first quarter before Central took over. Burnett started it with a 3-pointer, followed by inside baskets from Nolan Puckett and Micah Moore to go up 14-8.
A pair of 3-pointers from Losey and Brady Stack, sandwiched around a Christian Tedlock layup, closed out the period and put the Mustangs in front by 11.
Hays cut it to 27-20 on TJ Nunnery's basket with five minutes left in the half, but Central answered with a six-point surge to lead 33-20 at the break.
Nunnery had nine points and Carson Kieffer seven to lead Hays, with Ruder grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
Central girls 52, Hays 39
Hays opened the second quarter with a 6-2 run to lead 14-13 with 5:25 left in the half, but that was it for the Indians as Central scored the next 15 points and never looked back.
Aubrie Kierscht had 11 of her game-high 27 points in the last 5:08 of the half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Mustangs up, 28-14, at the break. Kierscht made 7 of 12 3-point attempts and Central was 9 of 20 as a team.
The Mustangs (10-2) shot just 40% overall, but also held Hays to 40% without a 3-pointer. They also outrebounded the Indians, 36-30, with Hampton Williams grabbing 10 to go with nine points.
Central also got eight points from Chaliscia Samilton and eight rebounds from Peyton Griffin.
Tasiah Nunnery led Hays (4-8) with 14 points, with Isabel Robben scoring 11 and grabbing seven rebounds.