CROFTON, Neb. — A fast start to the third quarter let Crofton win its Thursday night matchup of undefeated teams.
The Class C-2 No. 1 Warriors went on an 8-0 run coming out of halftime during their 44-35 win over Class C-1 No. 3 Pierce in a Mid-State Conference showdown.
“Pierce is not a team that you can go on a big run quickly against,” Crofton coach Aaron Losing said. “They play such good defense and do an excellent job of keeping the pace of the game in a slow format.”
After picking up her second foul, Crofton's Allison Arens was forced to watch the latter stages of the first half from the bench. Crofton held a 16-15 halftime lead.
Arens knocked down a pair of buckets during the first 40 seconds of the second half to stretch Crofton's lead to 20-15. Quinn Wragge hit a bucket at the 6:24 mark to put the Warriors up 24-15.
“Early in the third quarter, Allison Arens got aggressive in transition,” Losing said. “She got a couple pull-up jump shots for us. She was obviously motivated to get back in there and helped us make a nice run.”
Later in the third quarter, Wragge grabbed an offensive rebound and knocked down a shot to give Crofton its largest lead at 32-21.
A bucket by Rachelle Tucker helped pull Pierce to within 35-29 with 6:20 left. Pierce cut the Warriors' lead down to six points four times during the final quarter.
“Getting a little lead, rather than playing from behind chasing Pierce is nice,” Losing said. “You don't score points in a hurry against them.”
Arens scored 13 of her game-high 16 points in the second half for Crofton (16-0). Bridget Arens, a South Dakota recruit, followed with 14 points.
Tucker finished with a team-high 13 points and nine rebounds for Pierce (16-1).
Tucker connected on a bucket with 2:14 left in the opening quarter to give the Bluejays their only lead at 8-7. Crofton scored the game's next seven points before a bucket by Rachel Wiedenfeld helped Pierce tie the score at 14 with 2:11 before halftime.
“We knew they were going to come out and establish Allison Arens in the second half,” Pierce coach Darren Sindelar said. “She stepped up and hit some big shots in the third quarter. We just didn't find her a couple times, and a couple times she shot over the top of our defense.
“Crofton is a very physical team. If they continue to play that way, they're tough to beat.”
Pierce (16-1)..............................8 7 8 12—35
At Crofton (16-0)..................10 6 16 12—44
P: Branigan Stonacek 1 0-0 2; Jacy Bretschneider 3 2-3 8; Rachel Wiedenfeld 3 2-2 8; Rachelle Tucker 6 1-2 13; Krystina Koepke 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 5-7 35.
C: Allison Arens 5 4-4 16; Tiffany Tramp 1 0-1 3; Bridget Arens 5 4-5 14; Quinn Wragge 2 3-4 7; Maria Wortmann 2 0-0 4. Totals 15 11-14 44.