By TYLER HENRY
Salina Post contributor
The Southeast of Saline girls basketball team will open their 2021-22 campaign looking to avenge a loss that ended their playoff run when they travel to Hesston to take on the Swathers.
Both teams return a ton of talent, and of the ten players that took the floor to begin that sub-state game, nine will likely be in the starting lineups again tonight.
The Trojans will lean on the leadership of three senior starters in Karsyn Schlesener, Mallorie Pearson and Alaina Yianakopolus, all of whom have played big minutes throughout their time in the purple and white.
The Swathers bring back their own trio of senior talent in Caryn Yoder, Katie Kueker and Harley Ferralez, who combined to average 22 points and 12 rebounds a game in 2020-21.
Of the last four meetings between these two, three have seen one end the other’s season. Creating an instant rivalry with high tension.
Hesston knocked SES out of sub-state in 2015, Southeast repaid the favor in 2016 and Hesston got their revenge last season with a 49-39 win in the sub-state semifinal.
“This is a very big game for us and it’s definitely a rivalry game in our minds,” Trojan head coach Shauna Smith said. “We haven’t beaten them for a long time and they’re competitive every year.”
While SES played phenomenal defense last season, they will need to find more scoring consistency to make a deeper run this year.
“We’ve focused a lot on our shooting,” Smith said. “We’ll have to knock shots down to be competitive in a lot of games this year, last season there were a lot of games where we did things well but we just couldn’t score.”
The Swathers ran into a similar issue in 2020-21, averaging just 40 points per game throughout their season to Southeast’s 47.
Both teams played staggering defense however, each holding their opponents to just 35 points per game on average.
The first game of a new season always presents new challenges as teams discover their identities, but with so many veterans on both sides of the floor Hesston and Southeast will both be raring to pick things up right where they left off.
“It feels like we’ve been practicing forever so we’re excited for a chance to get back on the floor so that we can evaluate where we’re really at,” Smith said.
Tip-off between the Trojans and Swathers is set for 6pm with the boys game set to follow around 7.
All SES games can be heard on KINA again this season (910 AM or 107.5 FM) and road games will be streamed on the Salina Post courtesy of Eagle Radio.
For more on Trojan hoops all season long stay tuned to the Salina Post.