COUNCIL BLUFFS - Up 17 points with a little over a quarter to play and Glenwood girls basketball coach Barry Loeffelbein liked his team’s chances of finishing off a season sweep of Council Bluffs Lewis Central in more than a decade.
“We were feeling pretty good at that point,” said Loeffelbein.
Just over 10 minutes and a pair of Haley Higgins’ free throws later, Loeffelbein was scratching his head again after another close Rams’ loss.
“We let their pressure get to us,” said Loeffelbein. “They came out, got in our face and we let them do it. They pushed us away from the basket and we didn’t aggressively get to the basket. And we let them drive right at us when they had the ball.”
The Titans rallied from being down 37-21 with 2:16 go in the third quarter – without leading scorer and University of Missouri recruit Kyla Simmons – to pull out a 46-44 win on Friday in the Jennie Ed Sports Med Shoot Out at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
The first half, Glenwood was the aggressor. Using its distinct height advantage, the Rams closed the half on a 9-2 run to go up 27-20 at the break.
After intermission, three straight baskets by Morgan Lucy and a layup by Lexi Fisher handed Glenwood a 35-20 lead. Rachel De Young’s runner capped a 10-1 Ram run for their biggest lead of the night at 37-21 with 2:16 go in the quarter.
But that’s when the lights went on for the Titans. With Simmons on the bench after a second quarter collision with Fisher left her in an arm brace and out of the game, the Titans turned more aggressive and took the fight to the Rams.
Trailing 39-28 to open the fourth, Lewis Central’s Delaney Higgins nailed a 16-footer and grabbed a steal leading to a layup to trim the lead to 39-32. Haley Higgins added a layup and Aubrey Norville a pair of three throws and a turnaround jumper to cut the Rams’ margin to 43-40 with just over three minutes remaining.
Delaney Higgins’ three pointer from the right win knotted the score at 43-43 with 2:08 to go in the game. On its next possession, the Rams’ Fisher went to the line where she hit 1-of-2 free throws to put Glenwood back up. Next time down, Haley Higgins hit a free throw of her own to tie the game at 44-44 with :52.3 left.
Following Higgins’ free throw, Loeffelbein called timeout to set up a final play. After stalling for more than 30 seconds, the Rams’ Grace Newman was fouled 22 feet from the basket with 24.1 left. But Newman would miss both free throws leaving the door wide open for the Titans.
After a Titan timeout, the Titans ran the clock down to nine seconds when Natalie Madsen penetrated the lane and dished to Haley Higgins, who was fouled while tryng to gather the ball for the final shot. Higgins nailed both free throws to put Lewis Central ahead for the first time since the early moments of the game.
The Rams had 5.6 seconds for a final shot but Newman’s three-pointer at the buzzer clanged off.
“I guess the pressure did get us a little bit,” said Loeffelbein. We kind of froze and didn’t get to the basket. I told them I’ll take part of that, I should have got us into something different to get to the basket a little more but we have some kids that should be able to get to the basket and we just didn’t do that.
“I mentioned to them we need to execute and finish. We need to do the little things down the stretch to avoid those situations. We didn’t execute well offensively or defensively down the stretch to leave the door open and they got through it.”
The conference loss is the Rams’ third this season after having leads in the fourth quarter.
“They’re down,” said Loeffelbein of his team. “Leads like that melt away and you see it coming but you don’t believe it. They’re down. They felt like this was a win. We just need to pick ourselves up and get the next one.”
Fisher led Glenwood with 14 points. Lucy added 12 points.
Haley Higgins led Lewis Central with 12 points. Norville chipped in with 10 points.
The loss drops the Rams’ record to 7-4 on the season.