MAIZE—The Maize and Salina South boys basketball teams entered Friday’s contest with identical 6-11 records.
In a game where the Cougars never led, Maize claimed a 67-30 victory on its home court and completed its sweep of Salina South. The Eagles started the season with a four-game losing streak, but they have won five of their last six.
Fortunately for Maize, it did happen right away on Friday. The team’s only senior, Tavon Morrow, scored the first four points of the game – all free throws. Salina South senior Conner Ryan answered with a bucket, but junior teammate Zach Nachbar soon was whistled for a foul and then immediately picked up a technical foul.
Morrow added two more from the stripe to give Maize a 6-2 lead. Eagle sophomore Austin Engler was whistled for fouling Salina South junior Shawn Smith, but Smith’s reaction earned him a technical foul.
Cougar coach Matt Renk called for timeout after the second technical and shouted to his team, “Get over here right now!” All that occurred within the first six minutes of the game.
Smith sank one of two free throws at the 2:36 mark, and Maize junior Jacob Horsch missed both free throws for the technical. Morrow went two of four from the stripe following the earlier foul and subsequent technical.
“We didn’t really take advantage of it like we should have,” said Davis.
Morrow scored five unanswered points to boost Maize’s advantage to 11-3. The Eagles were ahead 15-3 near the end of the quarter, but Ryan was fouled while attempting a three-pointer at the buzzer. His series of perfect free throws left Salina South trailing 15-6 heading into the second quarter.
The Cougars outscored the host 8-4 in the first part of the quarter. Maize’s advantage was 19-14 with 3:44 left, but Morrow and junior Aaron Shaw scored five points apiece in a 10-0 run. Salina South called for timeout with 58 seconds remaining in the half, as Maize led 29-14.
Cougar junior Aaron Mar returned from the break and picked up a bucket, but Shaw answered with a basket to conclude the first half ahead 31-16.
Maize outscored Salina South 16-10 in the second quarter and, again, 16-10 in the third quarter. The Eagles won the fourth quarter 20-4.
Davis said the boys did not shoot free throws as well as they could have, but he commended them for keeping their composure, staying tough and making plays. He also said it was important for them to continue to guard as the regular season began to wind down.
“We’re defending like crazy,” he remarked.
Ryan scored a team-high 12 points for Salina South, while Morrow exploded with 25 points. Davis described Morrow, the team’s only senior, as a coachable player who provided valuable leadership.
“He leads by example,” Davis added.
Shaw followed Morrow with 17 points Friday. Davis said the junior’s passion was important for the Eagles.
“We feed off him,” Davis continued.