SILVER LAKE – It was just another night in the office for Class 3A's No. 6-ranked Silver Lake's girls' basketball team on Thursday night as the Eagles swiftly took care of business over non-conference opponent Clay Center, 64-38.

MakenzieMcDanielSL2Silver Lake junior Makenzie McDaniel led the way with 19 points as the No. 6-ranked Eagles to a 64-38 win over Clay Center Thursday night. [File photo/TSN]

The Lady Eagles notched another dominant win in a near unblemished season while Clay Center was worn down, out-worked and needed help to keep up with Silver Lake's aggressive fastbreak offense.

Since the Lady Eagles lost its first and only game of the season on Jan. 13 against Mid-East League foe Riley County, they've smothered the opposition.

After its only loss of the 2022-2023 campaign eight games ago, Silver Lake has had a positive point differential of 163.

"You learn from every game, and we learned a lot from Riley (County)," Silver Lake coach Kyle Porter said. "I don't know if it was a turning point for us; I just think it was a game for us to learn from and get better. I think what we are seeing right now is a result of coming in and getting better each and every day.

"I mean, there is no magic from that loss, and now everything is great. I think it's just playing more consistent basketball, getting better shots on the offensive end, and we are really improving our defense and finding out what we have to do to get consistent stops against quality teams."

In the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Association rankings, Silver Lake moved up one spot from No. 7 in the poll to No. 6.

For a team that has only lost two regular-season contests since Jan. 11, 2022; the Eagles haven't lost their edge.

Silver Lake's monstrous wins are confidence boosters, sure, but the Lady Eagles focus on what's in front of them when they're on the hardwood rather than what's ahead of them in the foreseeable future.

Finding flaws for this particular Silver Lake team is an arduous task. You won't find a single player on the Lady Eagles roster with an ego or anybody who won't give you their best effort. Porter and the staff have built a culture that doesn't go unrecognized.

The only thing that matters to this Silver Lake team is winning basketball games.

The sustained consistency that Silver Lake has isn't just with the starting five, it's within the whole varsity roster. The starters and key role players are improving physically and mentally throughout the season.

Clay Center felt the Lady Eagles' impact right away.

Silver Lake keyed an 11-6 run in the opening quarter. Post players Taylor Ross and Makenzie McDaniel had seven quick points down low.

Clay Center fought back thanks to its production from outside the arc in the first quarter. While Silver Lake didn't hit any 3-point shots, the Lady Tigers hit three long balls.

"(Clay Center) had shooters get plenty of shots off," Porter said. "If they get space, they can knock them down. And they showed that in the first half."

Silver Lake was crashing the paint, and Clay Center was relying on the 3-point shot, avoiding the size of Ross and McDaniel.

Silver Lake's three defensive weapons of juniors Sarah Wehrli and Kaylee Deiter, along with freshman Kailyn Hanni, provided superb assistance off the bench in the second quarter. Hanni poked the ball away three times, and Deiter forced Clay Center to bounce everything away from the paint.

"(Sarah Wehrli), Kailyn (Hanni) and Kaylee (Deiter) probably don't get the credit that they deserve," Porter said. "Being able to come off the bench and immediately provide that spark, athleticism and anticipation is huge. They're super selfless kids that do whatever we need for our team to be successful. They play some great minutes, and I think that's a big advantage we have against other teams."

The Lady Eagles played a similar offensive style in the second quarter as they did in the first quarter. Silver Lake dominated in the fast break and was the aggressor inside the paint on drives.

Junior guard McKinley Kruger was the catalyst for a successful offensive quarter. Kruger had a 10-point quarter, including a 3-point conversion as time expired to end the second quarter.

M. Kruger's long-range 3-pointer to end the second quarter gave Silver Lake a comfortable 37-24 advantage.

Silver Lake didn't get off to the best start offensively in the quarter. The Lady Eagles shot 2-of-8 from the field before Silver Lake called a timeout with 5:29 remaining, with a 43-29 lead.

After Porter's timeout, the Lady Eagles were much more efficient. Silver Lake involved McDaniel in the paint much more. McDaniel's height and shot selection allowed Silver Lake to open up the offense.

"We didn't really make any adjustments tonight," Porter said. "Our focus was continuing to wear them down and take it one possession at a time and trying to get good shots on the offensive end. The only thing different that we did was that we had to be more aware of where their shooters were.

"We did a better job of contesting (Clay Center's) shooters. Another benefit to our team is, I think, our depth. Our bench is playing extremely well. The third quarters have been big for us this year. We wear teams down in the first half and take advantage of it in the second half."

With a 29-point lead at the end of the third quarter, Silver Lake was able to coast to a victory with the running clock.

In three quarters of play, M. Kruger (14) and McDaniel (19) were the lone double-digit scorers for the Lady Eagles.

Silver Lake (14-1) doesn't have time to rest as they will hit the road and take on Mid-East League foe St. Marys Friday night.


Clay Center 13 11 7 7 – 38 

Silver Lake 17 20 23 4 – 64

Clay Center (8-7) – Weller 1 1-2 4, Bent 3 0-0 7, Wright 0 0-0 0, McDonald 4 0-0 8, Carson 4 0-0 12, Crimmins 0 2-2 2, Smith 1 0-0 2. Total – 13 3-4 38.

Silver Lake (14-1) – Farmer 2 0-0 4, McDaniel 7 5-8 19, K. Kruger 2 0-0 4, M. Kruger 5 2-2 14, Ross 4 0-0 8, Wehrli 4 0-0 9, Hanni 1 0-0 2, Deiter 2 0-0 4. Total – 27 7-10 64.

3-point goals – Silver Lake 3 (M. Kruger 2, Wehrli), Clay Center 6 (Carson 4, Bent, Weller). Total fouls – Silver Lake 8, Clay Center 8. Fouled out – none. Technical fouls – none.