Salina lost to Dewey, 55-36, in the first round of the Adair Invitational Tournament Monday.
Wildcats junior Mark Cowan hit a three-pointer to start the game.
Sophomore power-forward Colton Burgess put consecutive post-moves on Dewey defenders, and sophomore guard Kyle Johnson made good from beyond the arc as the first period clock expired with Salina a one-point ahead.
However, a couple of threes combined with multiple fast breaks and three steals near midcourt opened up a sizable Dewey lead, 34-15, at the half.
Salina senior Clay Wade hit a three near the top of the key to start the third, and it appeared life was breathed back into the team.
But Dewey crashed the offensive boards hard, while shooting a high free throw percentage.
Salina Head Coach Luke Folkerts changed his defense from a 2-3 to a man-to-man intermittently in an attempt to keep Dewey’s offense off-balance, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap.
Folkerts said a combination of flaws was the difference in the game.
“We didn’t match up very well with each other, and we had a lot of miscommunication on the court,” Folkerts said. “I give Dewey credit though. They converted on our mistakes.”
Salina’s only starting senior, guard Cale Backward, is out with a stress fracture on his foot. The injury occurred a week and a half before the start of the season.
Folkerts is aware of the growing pains associated with a roster heavy with underclassman but feels this year’s team motto offers resolution.
“We have told our guys this year our motto is: we can only control how hard we play,” Folkerts said. “If we do that we will be okay.”
The Wildcats take on Westville Thursday at 6 p.m.