CARROLL — One year ago, an early December matchup in the Creston gym ended with a talented Carroll Kuemper Catholic girls team escaping with a 51-50 victory over the Panthers.
On Tuesday night, the outcome was nearly identical as the Panthers battled on even terms until the very end in a 48-46 Knight victory on the Kuemper court.
“It was a game the girls deserved to win,” said Creston coach Larry McNutt. “The girls played hard. We held them to 18 points in the second half. We just needed to make a few more free throws.”
This year, Kuemper starts a much younger lineup featuring three sophomores, a junior and 5-10 senior guard Lexi Albrecht, headed to Iowa State as a preferred walk-on.
But it was a Creston sophomore guard who had the hot hand early, as Brenna Baker sank two of her five 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Panthers take a 14-11 lead after one period.
Creston hit a scoring drought in the second period, just as key senior defender Brianna Maitlen picked up her third foul with :18 left in the half. Kuemper went into the break leading 39-33 after a 19-11 quarter.
Baker and Kuemper sophomore Kierstyn Bauer each had three 3-pointers in the opening two stanzas. However, Creston’s 3-of-7 shooting at the free throw line was a forerunner of problems to come in that area.
Bauer hit her fourth 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter as Kuemper maintained a 39-33 advantage.
Frank on boards
A rebound bucket by Zaidy Frank, who finished with 10 points and 17 rebounds, closed it to 39-37 early in the final period. Free throws by Baker and Chelcee Downing pulled the Panthers even with 4:22 left.
Baker’s fifth 3-pointer gave Creston its final lead of the night, 42-41, with 3:15 remaining. The sophomore point guard finished 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
Downing hit another free throw to keep it knotted at 43-43 with 2:35 left. Then with only 1:13 left and the Panthers trailing by one (47-46), the teams traded turnovers.
The Panthers then missed a 15-footer and Albrecht converted a free throw on an ensuing Creston foul. That made it 48-46 with :34 left.
Creston came up with possession with 28 seconds left on Albrecht’s miss of the second attempt, and McNutt called a timeout.
“We wanted to get Natalie the ball and let her drive to the basket,” McNutt said. “With their size, it was tough to get a shot inside. They were taking away layups with fouls, and I don’t know how many times we made one of two. That’s trading two points for one.”
Creston missed at the 15-second mark, and was unable to get a foul in the final seconds to stop the clock.
Creston finished 11-of-24 at the line, while Kuemper was 4-13.
Baker finished with a game-high 19 points and led the team with four assists.
“Brenna has been shooting the ball better,” McNutt said. “She made some open shots. We were looking for her in the fourth quarter.”
McNutt praised the hustle of Frank, giving up six or seven inches inside against the taller Knights while grabbing eight offensive rebounds and another nine on the defensive end. She was 4-of-9 shooting in a 10-point night.
But overall it was not an efficient night from the field for Creston, either, shooting 10-of-45 from two-point range for 22 percent.
Albrecht, hounded by Mostek all night, ended with 17 points to lead the Knights, improving to 3-1. Creston, now 2-3, travels to Glenwood Friday night.
KUEMPER CATHOLIC (48) — Lexi Albrecht 17, Kierstyn Bauer 12, Hannah Dentlinger 8, Maria Dentlinger 7, Katie Tigges 2, Paige Obermohle 2 Totals — 20 4-13 48. FG shooting — 20-49 (40.8 percent). 3-point goals — 4-11 (Bauer 4). Steals — 6. Rebounds — 26. Blocked shots - 5. urnovers — 16. Team fouls — 23. Fouled out — M. Dentlinger.
CRESTON (46) — Brenna Baker 6-12 2-4 19, Zaidy Frank 4-9 2-4 10, Natalie Mostek 3-19 3-4 9, Chelcee Downing 2-9 2-6 6, Brianna Maitlen 0-3 2-6 2. Totals — 15 11-24 46. FG shooting — 15-54 (27.7 percent). 3-point goals — 5-9 (Baker 5). Rebounds — 33 (Frank 17, Mostek 8, Baker 3, Maitlen 3). Assists — 9 (Baker 4, Mostek 2). Steals — 9 (Mostek 3, Baker 2, Downing 2). Turnovers — 27. Team fouls — 14. Fouled out — None.
Kuemper — 11 30 39 48
Creston — 14 25 33 46