MAIZE SOUTH—The Maize South High School boys basketball team returned to its roots Thursday night.
The Mavericks’ first basketball game in 2009, the year the school opened, was a home matchup with Liberal. The Redskins traveled to Maize South on Thursday for just the second time in history. Although the Mavericks made strides this year and have showed continued improvement each season, they still couldn’t play at Liberal’s level.
“Our youth showed,” said Maize South coach Kip Schultz.
Liberal features six seniors while Maize South has no seniors. Even so, the Mavericks (8-12) were seeded No. 3 while Liberal (6-13) was seeded No. 6.
Maize South led 13-6 when a timeout occurred with 1:30 left in the first quarter. The Redskins put together a 10-0 run, including a pair of three-pointers from junior Blake Stout, to close the quarter.
Maize South sophomore Logan Mormando scored the first bucket of the second quarter, but Liberal answered with an 11-0 run. Senior Javonta Lewis was responsible for seven points in that spurt.
The streak left the Mavericks trailing 27-15, and they entered halftime with a 36-25 deficit.
Schultz said he had hoped to win Thursday, but he was proud that the boys did not quit. He added that he knew the game would be physical, but he thought the Mavericks’ fundamentals would be enough to reduce their turnovers.
“We just got sped up,” Schultz remarked.
Junior Britton Abbott scored Liberal’s first nine points of the second half. The Redskins won the third quarter just 15-12. Maize South’s Brett Barney and Kade Kordonowy combined for nine points in the quarter.
Liberal held a 10-point advantage, 47-37, with about one minute left in the quarter. The Redskins tacked on four more, however, and took a 51-37 lead into the fourth.
With 7:25 remaining in the contest, Barney was crumpled on the floor after a battle for a rebound. The 6-9 junior, who missed some games due to a knee injury this season, was helped off the court and did not return to play.
Maize South could not close the gap and lost 68-49. The Mavericks shot 50 percent (12 of 24) from the free throw line.
Liberal (7-13) will play second-seeded Hays (13-7) for the sub-state championship Saturday in Hays. The Redskins are 0-2 against their Western Athletic Conference foe this season.
Lewis anchored Liberal with 19 points Thursday, followed by Stout (14), Abbott (13) and senior William Ross (10). Kordonowy, a sophomore, led the Mavericks with 18 points.
Liberal excelled Thursday in the transition game and scoring from under the basket. Schultz said the Mavericks did a poor job stopping the Redskins and getting back in transition to protect the paint.
They showed some improvement from their first game ever, when Liberal prevailed 49-23 at Maize South. The Mavericks also secured eight wins this year and hosted the first round of sub-state – a pair of firsts in Maize South boys basketball history.
Schultz said it was important that young players logged numerous minutes on the court this year. He said that would be beneficial next season since Maize South won’t lose any players to graduation.
“That gives us a feeling of confidence,” the coach continued. “ … Every year we are proving that we are getting better.”