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Shaw’s foul shots help Maize by Salina Central

Published Feb. 25 at 11:33 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 26 at 6:54 a.m.

MAIZE — Aaron Shaw turned to the scorer’s table Tuesday night, smiled at clock operator and Maize teacher Betsy Manning and said, “Thank you.”

Since poor free-throw shooting has been an issue for Shaw, with his confidence at the line minimal, Manning, also Maize’s volleyball coach, had given Shaw a tip that might help.

“She said somebody used to help her with singing a song before her free throws or during her free throws,” Shaw said. “I’ve been working on that for a little bit. It’s been helping.”

Shaw made 8 of 10 free throws in a 47-41 win over visiting Salina Central on Tuesday, including 6 of 8 in the final period. Maize improved to 16-3 and needs a win over Newton on Friday to secure a share of the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I title.

“He just flat-out stunk,” Maize coach Chris Davis said of Shaw’s free-throw shooting earlier in the season. “If you’re going to be a good free-throw shooter, you gotta shoot them.

“When we got beat in Dodge (City) against East, he woke up a little bit and he started working on it, and he’s progressively gotten a little better.”

Shooting free throws can be such a mental issue, and Shaw acknowledged that it was in his head.

“They’ve definitely haunted me,” said Shaw, who scored a game-high 17 points. “(Against) Southeast, East, definitely came back to bite me a few times. This game, I just focused. (Manning) taught me a little trick, and I’ve been using it lately. This game, it just really came through.”

With the score tied at 18 to open the third quarter, Maize’s Connor Eleeson opened the period with a three-pointer.

After a Salina Central turnover, Maize took two minutes off the clock and Connor Lungwitz scored inside.

“They opened the third quarter with a three-ball, that was enough there for them to have two-minute possessions,” Salina Central coach Doug Finch said. “They’re a great two-minute possession team. They make you chase, run, run, run.”

On Salina Central’s next possession, Maize guard Kaven Jobe stole the ball and scored, giving Maize the 25-18 lead at the 5:17 mark of the third.

“The offensive possessions we had were unbelievable,” Davis said. “We were patient, we moved and moved and passed and passed and one we got a three, and the next one we got a lay-up, and that was the game.”

Salina Central’s Brayden Neuschafer hit a three with 6:18 to go to tie the score at 31-all, but Maize went on an 8-0 run for the 39-31 lead with 1:35 to go.

Salina Central kept it interesting the rest of the way. Maize hit 8 of 10 free throws in the final 58.3 seconds, including 3 of 4 by Shaw.

“I definitely am starting to get more mentally tough when it comes to free throws,” Shaw said.

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Salina Central: Hines 14, Robl 2, McNelly 14, Allen 2, Neuschafer 9.

Maize: Jobe 7, Shaw 17, Eleeson 3, Horsch 9, Lungwitz 4, Wilcox 5, Johnson 2.

Video of Maize fans

Maize senior Aaron Shaw

Maize coach Chris Davis