Taylor Kuhnle fires the jumper. (Photo by Deb Shannon)
After Bellmont's shaky start on Tuesday was followed by a mediocre first half against Woodlan at the Teepee on Friday night, it seemed as though the Squaws were doomed to a long season.
That all changed with a 17-6 advantage in the third quarter eventually leading to a nail-biting 42-41 victory over the Woodlan Warriors for Bellmont's first win of the season.
"We talked at halftime about beating ourselves," noted coach Andy Heim. "We did that at Concordia. We were amped up a little bit but I told them that if we worked out of the offense and settled down then we'd be fine and get some good looks. We crashed the boards well too."
Taking a 36-28 lead into the fourth quarter, Bellmont's offense stalled once again. Woodlan cut the lead to six on an offensive rebound put back that made the game 38-32. Both teams struggled to find the hoop for the next few minutes until 2:10 remaining when the Warriors' Brooke Gerbers drained a three-pointer to pull within three points. Gerbers, Woodlan's best shooter, was an icy 0-7 from beyond the arc before the timely bucket.
"We didn't have a detailed scouting report but we knew that Gerbers and Price would be good. We gave her shots but she was missing. I told the girls that she would start hitting."
And hit she did.
After Bellmont scored on the other end on a nice dish from Brooke Zimmerman to Taylor Kuhnle, Gerbers struck again from the top of the key leaving the Squaws up by just two at 40-38.
With :30 seconds to play, Kuhnle would come up big once again for Bellmont stroking a pair of free throws to pad the lead back to four. After a scrum for the ball on the defensive end, the Warriors came away with the ball and swung it around the perimeter to Gerbers who hoisted a well-defended shot that was once again true.
"She hit that three-pointer from two feet behind the line with two hands in her face so props to her," praised Heim.
Nursing a one-point lead, the Squaws would miss the front end of the one-and-one after a Woodlan foul and the Warriors streaked down the court with six second left. Lauren Ehle, the game's leading scorer with 11, got a good look at a 12-foot jumper that would have won the game for Woodlan but it rimmed out leaving Bellmont with the victory by the slimmest of margins.
"I've seen shots that go in collapse a season and also shots that miss propels teams to a good record which is what I'm looking for," explained the BHS coach. "Us holding that lead did something for their confidence and showed them that they could beat a solid team."
The first quarter was a defensive struggle for both squads but Ehle opened up an 8-2 edge on consecutive baskets plus the foul. Both teams were quiet for the rest of the quarter until Brooke Zimmerman drained her first of two triples with under two minutes to go and the score stood at 8-5 in favor of the Warriors.
Bellmont's offense remained quiet for most of the second quarter and Woodlan opened up their biggest lead of the game at 20-15. Bailey Christlieb drained a jumper on the wing to cut the lead to three, then with under a minute to go Amanda Hunter had drained a three pointer to keep pace before Christlieb's shot and had a good look at a second triple to end the half but the shot was just long keeping Bellmont down three at the break.
Bellmont came out energized in the third quarter both offensively and on the defense.
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