It came down to patience on offense here Friday night at the St. Mary's gym in the Panther girls basketball team's Northwest Conference showdown with Sac City.
Put simply, Sac City had it and the Panthers didn't. The Indians came away with a 66-48 win to stay in the running for a conference title.
"We didn't run our offense in a patient way and that led to some ill-advised shots, bad passes and some turnovers," said St. Mary's coach Ryan Berg.
"When we were playing well, we were getting good looks and knocking them down. When we rushed things, we either turned the ball over or missed a shot."
Sac City had an experience advantage with guard Dani Berry and forward Jenna Crabb.
Both players hurt the Panthers, as Berry finished with 21 and Crabb 16.
The Indians used the three-point shot and free throws for much of their offense. They hit six threes, including five by Crabb.
Sac City won the game at the line in the fourth quarter, hitting 20 of 24 free throws. They were 29 of 38 from the line overall.
Veteran point guard Abby Richardson led SM with 18 points, with junior center Janie Imming adding eight. Cassie Weaver and Maggie Lang added six each.
With the result, St. Mary's, Newell-Fonda and Sac City all now have three losses.
In contrast to the second half, St. Mary's came out with loads of intensity, and it showed. They led by as many as eight points in the first quarter and led 15-10 after the first eight minutes.
Sac City went on a scoring run early in the second quarter, as it led 28-21 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first half.
The Panthers upped the intensity level, and it worked. Imming made a free throw to start a Panther run, and that was followed by a steal and layup by Becky Lenhart and two consecutive shots in the lane by Imming, the last coming with two seconds left in the half.
After two quarters, the teams were tied at 28.
Berry opened the second half pattern on the first possession. She made two free throws to start a 13-1 Sac City run for a 41-29 Indian lead five minutes into the third quarter.
Richardson canned a three, and after a stop on the other end, Weaver knocked down a short jumper as SM pulled to within seven at 41-34.
Sac City's Carrie Duffy hit a three, but Maggie Lange made a tough shot in traffic as the Panthers trailed 44-36 after three frames.
The fourth quarter was a parade to the free throw line. The Indians scored 20 points from the line in that frame and held St. Mary's to just eight fourth-quarter points.
The Panthers face another crucial conference home game Tuesday night when they host Newell-Fonda.
Storm Lake 27
The Storm Lake High girls struggled on offense in Spencer Friday night, losing a 47-27 decision to the Tigers.
SLHS coach Stacey VanDerSloot said her team played strong defense, but had a tough time against the physical Tigers.
"We went eight minutes without scoring from the last four minutes of the third quarter to the first four minutes of the fourth," she said. "They played a very physical style against us and the game wasn't called closely."
Senior post player Kristen Erskine led the Tornadoes with nine points while senior guard Katie Overturf added six.
"We played them tough man-to-man and rebounded well against Spencer," VanDerSloot added. "We just struggled offensively and that was the difference."
The Cyclone girls improved to 7-6 in league play and to 12-8 overall with this conference win in Alta Friday night.
More importantly, Alta coach Jeannie Henningsen said her team is headed in the right direction as tournaments beckon.
"We played well in all phases o fthe game (Friday night)," Henningsen said after the game.
"We went to the basket well, played good defense and overall, we're showing improvement with every game."
Junior post player Dee Hinkeldey led Alta with a game-high 18 points. Freshman guard Kelsie Peterson added 15 while junior point guard Jahde Hammer and Jessy Bibler added seven points each.
Henningsen added that guard Megan Suhr had her best game of the season, coming up with six points and six steals.
"She was outstanding defensively," Henningsen said.
Alta nearly had the game put away by the end of the first quarter, when it led 20-3. The Cyclones were never seriously threatened after that.
Kristine Munden scored a game-high 24 points here Thursday night, leading the Aurelia girls basketball team to a 74-43 win over Laurens-Marathon.
Emily Sonksen added 14 points and Cassy Smith netted nine, with five other Aurelia players scoring at least four points.
"We played with great intensity on both ends of the floor," said Aurelia coach Marv Munden. "This was a total team effort."