Salina South boys control tempo, knock off Abilene in Salina Invitational fifth-place game

·2 min read

In the beginning, Abilene wanted to run. Salina South’s boys did not.

In the end though, it would be the Cougars who imposed their will on the Cowboys and secured a 50-38 victory in the fifth-place game of the Salina Invitational Tournament Saturday at the South gym.

The victory squared South’s record at 6-6, while Abilene dropped to 8-4.

More: Salina Central girls basketball wins Salina Invitational Tournament; Aubrie Kierscht named MVP

Abilene opened with a 10-2 flourish that got a regrouping timeout called by South coach Jason Hooper, and once he got his message across things gradually began to turn around.

“We had a great defensive effort tonight,” Hooper said. “They are a very good team. They’ve got post players (and) shooters. We know they play with a lot of transition and pace and we wanted to make sure we controlled the tempo and got some stops.

“One of the biggest emphasis we made was making sure they only got one shot (by) rebounding and I thought we did that tonight.”

South outrebounded Abilene, 31-18, led by Zach Davidson’s seven.

After trailing 15-8 at the end of the first quarter, things were already turning around for the Cougars. South’s limited Abilene to Kaleb Becker’s foul shot five minutes into the second.

Te’Jon McDaniel’s basket with 41 seconds left in the half gave the Cougars a 17-16 lead, their first since scoring the game's first basket.

After the break, Abilene went to a half-court trap in an attempt to quicken the pace, to no avail as Cougar point guard Devin Myers managed to navigate it and control the offensive tempo. The Cougars out scored Abilene 15-6 in the third quarter and took a 32-22 lead to the fourth.

Myers repeatedly found McDaniel open for good looks on the block and the 6-foot-3 junior responded with a team-high 16 points.

“(Myers) does get it done for us,” McDaniel said. “He does a very good job of {breaking pressure) and getting the ball to us. My teammates tell me to do my thing and they get me the ball so I can.”

A key play came with 1:49 left in the third quarter, courtesy of Edgar Garcia.

Garcia knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key and was fouled. His free throw capped a four-point play and stretches the Cougars' lead to 30-20. Abilene never gained any rhythm or flow the rest of the way.

Becker led Abilene with 17 points.

This article originally appeared on Salina Journal: Salina South boys beat Abilene for fifth place in Salina Invitational

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