Jadyn Zamecnik got Salina South girls over the hump but the task of saving the Cougars in the final two seconds fell to Victoria Maxton as South edged Buhler 36-35, in an opening-round game of the Salina Invitational Tournament at Mabee Arena.
South (3-6) will face unbeaten Liberal (9-0) in today's 1:30 p.m. semifinals at Mabee Arena, while Buhler (4-5) will play Wichita West (1-8) in a 3 p.m. consolation game at Salina South.
Trailing the Crusaders in a low-scoring contest, 32-31, Zamecnik scored on a drive to the rim and then splashed a spot up 3-poiunter to give South a 36-32 lead with 3:00 left.
“I’ve got the green light from coach (Ryan Stuart) to shoot when I’m open, and I was spotted in the corner when I got a skip pass and I had a good look,” Zamecnik said.
The Crusaders began fouling to extend the game, but having committed only two fouls to that point in the second half, they had to foul four times before sending the Cougars to the line.
South played into that strategy by missing a pair of one-and-ones and both ends of a two-shot foul that allowed Buhler to have a chance.
Maggie Epp scored on a putback with 47.8 seconds left that got Buhler within two, 36-34 and was back at the line with a chance to tie after a missed Cougar free gthrow.
After missing the first shot, she sank the second as Buhler trailed 36-35.
Again, the Cougars misfired from the foul line and Buhler had one last chance. After a timeout, Libby Schultz drove the ball inside but was off the mark. Alexis Hutton cleared the glass and started back up for a follow shot with the clock rolling under two seconds.
That’s when Maxton extended her 5-foot-9 frame for the game-preserving block.
“I was positioned for a rebound,” Maxton said, “but I saw it falling backside and there was no one there except the Buhler player. I started up and got all ball on the block and she fell out of bounds when the ball came down and we got possession.”
“We got killed on the glass when we played them the first time,” said Stuart of a 54-42 loss in early December. “We couldn’t rebound to save our life the first time we played them, and I thought we were pretty good at that pretty much the majority of the game.
“Offensively, we didn’t shoot it that great and we wanted to get out in transition a little bit more, and we just couldn’t.
“We made some timely shots. Lauren Raubenstine hit a big 3 for us — (Camdyn) Schreiber hit a big shot for us when we down by one. The last game we played — we closed really well against Hutch — (but) tonight, we didn’t.”
South was in control most of the game. A 7-0 run to close the first half gave the Cougars a 20-13 lead at intermission and South was still up six, 26-20 just into the final period.
But a 3-pointer from Epp and a power move by Alyvia Owens got it to one with 5:28 left
Owens hit both ends of a 2-shot foul at 5:10 to give the Crusaders their first lead of the game, 30-29.
Schreiber and Owens traded baskets before Zamecnik scored the last five points for South.