The Fort Calhoun girls basketball team led at halftime Saturday, but was outscored 32-12 the rest of the way.
Ashland-Greenwood earned its road win 51-32.
Despite an insurmountable late deficit, Pioneers coach Allie Schleifer kept her top unit on the floor. She kept her players after the Bluejays with defensive pressure, too.
“We preach toughness for four quarters,” the coach explained afterward. “And, you know, a lot of times when a game gets a little out of hand, (the starters) don't play a whole four quarters.”
In a game where they led after the first and second periods, Schleifer wanted to make sure the Pioneers (1-8 overall) went the distance.
“I wanted to prove to them that they could finish a game still playing that strong all the time,” she said. “They can finish a tight game at the end, they've just got to get themselves to the end.”
Fort Calhoun started things off Saturday with an 11-8 first quarter. Rianna Wells found Kennedy Bradburn wide open on the far block for the game's first bucket. From there, Bradburn and Abbie Anderson combined for six more points before Tessa Skelton's 3-pointer.
After a 12-0 Ashland run flipped the game's direction, the Pioneers battled back with their own 9-0 streak in the second quarter. Anderson's reverse layup tied the game at 18 before Skelton's bucket gave Schleifer's team a 20-18 lead.
The Bluejays knocked down a foul shot, but FCHS led 20-19 before things went south during the third quarter.
“I think we started to get too tight,” Schleifer said. “The third quarter, lately, has kind of been that quarter where we can't quite get over the hump. We started to worry so much about everything else going on rather than just how we got to that point of the game.”
Ashland outscored the Pioneers 18-5 during the third period and won comfortably, while Fort Calhoun's coach tried to use the final minutes as a teaching moment. Skelton led the home team with 13 points, while Bradburn had 11.
Ashland's Kiara Libal led all scorers with 17 points.