One win away: Eagles get shot at first state championship

Maize defeated Salina Central 54-35 Friday to secure a spot in the 5A title game

One more win.

That’s what the girl’s basketball team needs to win the first basketball championship in school history. The Eagles will get their shot Saturday.

Pullquote Photo

I think we have a really good shot,” Roe said. “I’m excited to see what happens. I think we can do it, I know we can do it.”

— Brecken Roe

The Eagles defeated league rival Salina Central 54-35 Friday at Topeka’s Expocentre in the 5A semifinals.  

“When you get to finals, anything can happen,” coach Jerrod Handy said. “We’re just looking forward to a chance to win a state championship.”

The game started close, but after the half the Eagles began to take off. The Eagles led 20-15 at halftime, with Salina Central not getting a single offensive rebound.

“We just knew we had to come back out and the game wasn’t over and we had to play as a team, and not as individuals,” senior Caitlyn Stewart said.

Maize (21-3) dominated the third quarter, taking a 34-21 lead.

“We are a second-half team,” senior Brecken Roe said. “We bring it in right after halftime. That’s when we play our best.”

The fact that the Eagles have played and defeated Salina Central twice wasn’t much of a comfort for the team. Handy said he knew what a tough opponent the Mustangs could be, and they were cautious for their rematch at state.

“We were worried before we even got off the bus,” Handy said. “We know Salina Central was gonna be coming at us. We were just really prepared for their best, and I thought we matched it.”

Roe scored a game-high 18 points, making all four of her three-point attempts. Senior Taylor Holmes followed with 15 points, making 10 of 12 free-throw attempts. As a team, the Eagles made seven three-pointers.

“There were some big threes that we hit there that really spread it open,” Handy said. “We just relaxed and started shooting.”

The Eagles held Salina Central at 30 percent shooting, making 10 of 33 shots. The Eagles were coming off a record-breaking win on Wednesday when they held De Soto to 17 points.

 

After not many fans were able to make the game Wednesday, there was a strong presence in the student section.

“I loved it,” Holmes said. “It was nice to have people there cheering. It gets everyone involved.”

Stewart said she believes Maize has a good shot at being state champions following their two wins in the tournament.

 “We have to keep our same focus and play as a team and not as individuals, and play good defense,” Stewart said. “I thought we did really well with our defense, we talked more than we did last night and we just moved.”

The top-seeded Eagles will play No. 3-seed St. Thomas Aquinas or No. 2-seed Leavenworth for the title Saturday at 4 p.m..

“I think we have a really good shot,” Roe said. “I’m excited to see what happens. I think we can do it, I know we can do it. I never really worry about this team.”

Salina Central – Ward 5, Merkle 3, Backes 6, Mayorga 2, Nash 1, Cain 8, Sanderson 2, Knoth 8. Totals 10-33 (3-15) 12-20 20 35.

Maize – Roe 18, Stewart 4, Jones 7, Cauthon 6, Holmes 15, Hanna 1, Stauffer 3. Totals 14-35 (7-14) 19-24 29 54.