MAIZE—The Maize High School girls won a battle of ranked basketball teams Friday, Feb. 15, when Salina South visited.
After beating the Cougars by six points in the squads’ previous faceoff, Maize topped Salina South 55-48 Friday. The Eagles entered the game with a 14-1 record while Salina South was 13-4.
Maize is ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, according to the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, while Salina South is No. 5 in Class 5A. The Cougars led 20-19 at halftime Friday.
Eight of Maize’s 10 points in the second quarter were from free throws. Sophomore Keiryn Swenson hit a shot at the buzzer for the Eagles’ only basket in that period.
“We usually shoot good free throws,” said Maize coach Jerrod Handy. “That’s kind of our thing.”
He added that the Eagles try to get the ball inside to post players with the hope that they will draw fouls.
The score was tied 27-27 in the third quarter Friday when Maize sophomore Daley Handy sank two free throws at the 5:03 mark and then drained a three-pointer. That gave the Eagles a 32-27 advantage, and it was a lead they would not relinquish.
Maize had increased the margin to eight, 39-31, when Salina South senior McKenzie Haynes hit two free throws and then senior Megan Holloway picked up a bucket as time expired in the third quarter.
The Cougars entered the final stanza trailing 39-35, and another basket from Holloway narrowed the gap even more. Maize was clinging to a 39-37 lead when Handy called for timeout with 6:19 remaining in the game.
After the break, Swenson scored back-to-back buckets. Just like that, Maize was ahead 43-37 with 4:45 left.
“Keiryn’s a great shooter,” Handy said. “She can shoot anywhere.”
Salina South pulled within three, 45-42, when Holloway managed a three-pointer with four minutes on the clock. However, that’s as close as the Cougars could get.
In the final two minutes, Maize senior Paige Lungwitz sank four of four free throws while junior Brayden Byrd went two of four at the stripe. The Eagles led 55-48 at the 12-second mark. As Holloway dribbled on the perimeter, Lungwitz stole the ball and Maize prevailed.
Handy said the Eagles’ overall toughness at the end of the contest made the difference in the game.
“We seem to close out games really well,” he remarked, adding that the girls can focus late without getting in a hurry.
Swenson led the home team with 22 points Friday, while Daley Handy scored 12 and Lungwitz contributed nine.
Holloway anchored Salina South with 18 points, and senior Cassidy Cook followed with 12.