The Blair and Arlington girls basketball teams raced after loose balls during Monday's preseason exhibition game.
Both coaches agreed on that effort after the Bears earned a 39-35 road win.
“Film will tell us a lot,” BHS coach Matt Aschoff said. “But the biggest thing I wanted the girls to do was play hard and I thought they did that.”
Eagles coach Luke Brenn made an early assessment, too. He had to consider the circumstances surrounding the Jamboree game, which won't go toward either teams' season record.
“After taking a step back and looking at it, I'm going, 'You know what? We played pretty darn well for having only four practices,'” the coach said.
The Eagles missed school, and practice, the previous Friday due to a health-related school closure.
“We hadn't even had a chance to put our warmup in until tonight,” Brenn said. “A couple of girls were learning that.”
Arlington never led, but also never trailed by more than 10 points. After it fell behind Blair 30-20, the Eagles' Sarah Theiler scored a bucket before Kailynn Gubbels went on a personal 6-0 run to pull the home team within 30-28.
The Bears never gave in, however. Sami Murray's layup just before the third-period buzzer put BHS ahead 33-30 going into the fourth quarter. From there, coach Aschoff's team pulled out the four-point win.
“We said there's going to be a lot of basketball things that we'll need to work on, but if we have to work on effort, that's going to be hard,” Aschoff said. “It won't matter how good we are at basketball then, but we thought the girls worked hard.”
Arlington has just two seniors on its roster, but Blair also has only three. Sophomore Avory French led the way with a team-high 13 points, while Sophia Grantham — one of those three seniors — had seven. Aschoff said it was sophomores Erika Roehrs, Maggie Valasek and Murray who stepped into new varsity roles and really pushed the Bears to victory.
“I thought they did really well,” he said. “Sami stepped up really well tonight and got in there.”
Brenn, in turn, was complimentary of his seniors' leadership. Jaidyn Spoon and Theiler are the only two 12th-graders on the squad. Theiler had 12 points, while Gubbels, a sophomore, had a game-high 15 in defeat.
“We've got improvement to do. We know that,” Brenn said. “But we're going to go back, work hard and get ready for Dec. 5 for West Point.”
The Bears open their season that same day at Omaha Mercy.