Balance has been a big key to Salina South's solid start this season, and the Cougars showed plenty of it Tuesday night against Hutchinson.

Four players scored in double figures — all of them attempting 10 shots — as South rolled past the winless Salthawks, 64-45, at the South High gym.

The victory boosted the Cougars to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division I race.

Four juniors — Colin Schreiber (14 points, 10 rebounds), AJ Johnson (14 points, 8 rebounds), Devon Junghans (11 points) and Josh Jordan (10 points, 6 rebounds) — keyed the victory as the Cougars led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.

"We've been balanced all year long, so we're a squad you can't focus in on one guy," South coach Jason Hooper said. "If you focus on one, we're going to hurt you somewhere else, so it makes us a little harder to guard, but at the same time, the guys still have to step up and make plays."

Despite trailing 14-1 late in the first quarter and missing its first 13 field goal attempts, Hutchinson scrapped its way back into the game with a strong second quarter and trailed just 26-22 at the 7:30 mark of the third period following after a 3-pointer by Joe Blake.

It was still a six-point game three minutes later when South used an 11-0 run over the final four minutes of the quarter to open up a 40-25 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

"Watching Hutch on film, they've got to be the best zero-win team in the state of Kansas," Hooper said. "They play super hard and I told our kids if you don't come with energy tonight, they're going to smack you. You've got to give a lot of credit to coach (Ted) Webster for getting those kids to continue to play without having much reward right now.

"I felt like tonight in the second quarter, we got sped up a little bit. We kind of got out of our game plan and the way we want to play. But, those are learning opportunities."

The victory was the second in as many nights for the Cougars, who won a weather makeup game Monday night at Arkansas City.

Hutchinson (0-6, 0-3) was led by 6-foot-8 senior Weston Kraus, who finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and several blocked shots. But he was the only player in double figures as the Salthawks were held to 30.3% shooting.

The Cougars will look to keep things rolling Friday night with a home game against Newton.

"Going into the (Christmas) break, I felt like there were a lot of things we needed to work on offensive and defensively; just little details," Hooper said. "We were doing a lot of good things, but there were small things we could do better that would make a huge difference.

"We worked on those pretty hard and felt like coming out of the break, we improved on a lot of those things."

 

Hutchinson Girls 48, Salina South 41 (OT)

Despite ice-cold shooting, just two two-point field goals the entire game and no points in the final six minutes of regulation, the South girls had victory within their grasp.

But, a miss on the front end of a one-and-one by the Cougars in the final minute was followed by a 3-pointer from Hutchinson's Tina Robertson to send the game into overtime.

It was all Salthawks after that as the visitors put the game away in the four-minute extra period.

Hutchinson's 6-foot-1 senior McKenzie Hefley proved too much to handle inside for the shorter Cougars, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds. But it was Robertson's 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench that saved the day for Hutch and dropped South to 4-4 overall, 2-3 in the AVCTL-I.

The Cougars were in sight of victory late in the game because of their 3-point shooting. Nine of their 11 field goals were 3-pointers, which helped offset 26.8% overall shooting from the field.

"When you're as undersized as we are, you have to shoot the three and you have to handle the ball," South coach Ryan Stuart said. "What has really impressed me about this team early has been our ability to not turn the ball over, but tonight that was kind of the first time that bit us."

South will look to the final minutes of the second and fourth quarters to see where this one got away. They led 21-12 at the 1:30 mark of the second quarter, but Hutchinson finished the half with a seven-point run in a 46-second span.

Sydney Peterson dropped in a pair of free throws with 6:08 remaining in the fourth quarter to give South a 39-33 lead, but the Cougars went the next 9 minutes, 58 seconds without a point.

The Cougars still led by three points (39-36) in the final minute of regulation, and after Hutch's tying 3-pointer still had 25 seconds to win it. But they turned the ball over with 3.5 seconds left.

"We didn't finish either half," Stuart said.

Hutchinson (4-2, 2-1) scored the first eight points of overtime before two free throws by Kylie Arnold with 9.8 seconds remaining ended South's long scoring drought.

"It seemed like forever," Stuart said. "Down the stretch, they executed and we didn't. I don't know ... it's just frustrating."

Peterson scored 12 of her team-high 14 points in the first half for South, while freshman Acacia Weis had eight of her 11 points in the third quarter.

"I'm so proud of the girls the way they gutted it out," Stuart said. "We're on the road last night at Ark City and we get back late. Then, we have to turn around and play a very physical team in a game that was very physical."