In a game that featured a couple of lead changes, the Clear Creek-Amana girls defeated Beckman at home, Jan. 20, 61-43.
Lauren Osterhaus scored the first three Blazer points to make it CCA 4, Blazers three. But CCA went on a 10-2 run to close out the quarter, settling the Blazers to a 14-5 disadvantage. Then it was time for a Blazer run. They opened the second frame with a Paige McDermott three and 3-of-4 bonus shots from Kennedy Arens and Oliva Pirc to cut the lead to 14-11.
A Karsyn Stratton three, the first of her game-high 26 points, stopped the Blazer run but Arens added a lay-in to make it 17-13 midway through the quarter. After a CCA basket, Osterhaus drilled a long ball and Arens added a free throw to cut it to 19-17. A Clippers trey upped them to 22 but the Blazers battled back, on an Osterhaus bunny and Keeley Schmitt free throws, to make it 22-21. CCA closed out the quarter with a putback and free throw to lead 25-21 before Arens rebounded a miss for a 25-23 halftime mark.
Answering baskets opened the third quarter but then CCA went on their final run, 7-0, to lead 34-25 with just under four minutes left. McDermott got a two-footer-and-one to make it 34-28 but it was the closest they would get for the duration. CCA went into the final quarter with a 40-30 lead.
The Blazers made it interesting in the fourth, getting back-to-back threes from Kristi Bries but Stratton kept them at bay scoring 13 of their final 21 points.
Coach Chad Thomason added, “I thought our effort was pretty good tonight. We have spurts of very good basketball and at other times we didn’t look very good. But our effort should never change. We need to keep competing and keep fighting to get over the hump.”
Beckman’s leaders were: scoring — Arens 13, Osterhaus 10 (one trey), Bries nine (three), McDermott six (one), Schmitt four, Pirc one; rebounds — Osterhaus and Pirc nine, Schmitt four, Arens three, McDermott two, Makayla Koelker one; steals — Koelker, Osterhaus, Arens, Schmitt, and Pirc one; blocks — Osterhaus and Arens one; assists — Osterhaus four, McDermott and Arens one.
The next night found the Blazers at West Delaware for a streak-breaking win, 68-50. The Blazers held a slim, 18-17, lead to start the second quarter but trailed by that point, 30-29 at the half. They out-pointed the Hawks, 21-11, in the third quarter to gain control and never let up.
“Finally, we got back in the win column,” glowed Thomason. “This one feels great after the stretch we went through. We had a rough first half but calmed down and did the things we are good at in the second.
“We had a lot of girls step up in this one but the difference was the way we attacked the basket. Shooting 34 free throws (made 23) was why we won the game. It is always hard to win in the WaMaC and this was a great team win.”
Arens and McDermott broke out for season-high tallies in this one, getting 23 and 20, with Arens going 10-of-15 and McDermott 7-of-9 at the line. Adding totals were Osterhaus eight (one) Schmitt six, Pirc five, Koelker and Bries three (one); rebounds— McDermott nine, Arens four, Osterhaus three, Bries two, Koelker, Lil McDermott and Pirc one; steals — Pirc five, Osterhaus, Paige McDermott and Arens two, Schmitt and Shelby Pirc one; blocks — Osterhaus, Paige McDermott and Olivia Pirc one; assists — Arens four, Osterhaus three, Paige McDermott two, Schmitt one.
Sadly, the streak came back against a taller Maquoketa team at home Jan. 24, 62-46. The lead began in the first quarter where the Cardinals ran to a 19-8 advantage. It was 34-20 at the half, due mainly to the lack of actual baskets from the Blazers. They hit just two lay-ups and a three in the frame while going 5-of-10 at the line. The Cardinals scored at will, running the floor and cashing in under the basket from second-chance shots. Three of their players posted double figures on the night: Nell Sybesma 22, Autumn Dykstra and Tenley Cavanagh 13.
In the second half, the baskets began to fall as well as the free throws, but the margin was too great for the Blazers to take it back. They were 9-of-12 at the line.
“We attacked the basket well and played pretty good defense in spurts,” said Thomason. “We just need to do it for a whole game. But we didn’t ever give up.”
Stat leaders were: scoring — Osterhaus 16 (two), Arens 10, Pirc eight (one), Lil McDermott two, Shelby Pirc one; rebounds — Osterhaus eight, Arens six, Olivia Pirc four, Bries three, Schmitt two, Koelker, Paige and Lil McDermott one; blocks — Arens and Olivia Pirc one; steals — Arens four, Bries two, Koelker, Schmitt and Shelby Pirc one; assists — Olivia Pirc and Paige McDermott two, Koelker, Osterhaus, Bries and Arens one.