The Conestoga girls basketball team scored the first basket of Monday's fourth period at Fort Calhoun.
The 2-point hoop cut the Pioneers' lead to just two, 29-27, but it did not signal a shift in momentum.
Coach Marty Plum's squad had answers. Plenty of answers.
FCHS scored the next eight points, putting away the Cougars and earning a 38-29 victory — its second of the season. A day later at Ralston, however, the Pioneers (2-6 overall) lost 49-47.
To start the two-game stretch, though, Calhoun claimed an 18-16 first-half lead with five made 3-pointers by Kaylee Taylor, Tess Skelton and Bria Bench.
“(Conestoga) started coming out on us for 3s, so we had to find another way to score,” said Skelton, the senior leader. “So, we did.”
Conestoga took a brief, 19-18 lead at the start of the third period, but the Pioneers scored four-straight buckets at the rim to go ahead by seven. Skelton, Maddy Tinkham and Bench drove into the lane and left with points.
“I think that we came out of the locker room and we were ready to go,” Skelton said. “Like, 'This is our game.'”
Though the threat was there, Fort Calhoun didn't need to score from beyond the arc to build on its advantage during the second half.
“We just wanted to get good looks,” Tinkham said. “The game was tight and we just wanted to make sure that we got shots up.”
The Pioneers certainly did during the fourth period with the game on the line. Their 8-0 scoring streak started with two Skelton free throws after the guard took a hard foul on the chin.
Next, FCHS' Dala Drowne threw a short shot straight up into the air and watched as it made its way out through the bottom of the net. The junior then provided a key screen on a Bench drive for two more points and added her second bucket with a little more than 4 minutes to go.
The 37-27 lead was plenty as Plum's defense locked down the Cougars just as it had since the first half.
“Once we got our defense rolling, and got stops on defense, we would turn it into scoring on the other side,” Tinkham said.
The next night, the Pioneers led through three quarters at Ralston. Raegen Wells and Bench each scored buckets before Skelton's 3-pointer at the buzzer pushed the visitor's lead to 33-29.
Calhoun's advantage reached five on Tinkham's fourth-quarter 3, but the Rams battled back and overtook the Pioneers with a 12-2 run.
A late 3-pointer pulled FCHS within 47-44, but Ralston hit a pair of foul shots to ice the game. Skelton's half-court make at the buzzer just wasn't enough as her team suffered its sixth loss of the season. She scored 17 points, while Bench had 14 and Tinkham scored 10.
Fort Calhoun next plays Tuesday at a Centura holiday tournament.
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