Central Christian’s girls turned Pretty Prairie inside out.
Junior guard Josie Ibarra hit from the outside in the first half and junior center Krysten Bartlett dominated the inside in the second half, giving the Lady Cougars a 48-29 Heart of the Plains Conference high school basketball game Tuesday night.
Ibarra and Bartlett combined for 25 points to lead the Cougars to their 17th victory against two losses this season, 7-1 in the league.
After facing a strong start by the Bulldogs, Central exploded in the third quarter.
Pretty Prairie scored the first basket of the second half, but the Cougars responded with a 12-0 run. Bartlett scored half of the Cougars’ points during the stretch from underneath.
“When this team gets after it, they’re tough,” Central coach Jason Hett said after the game.
Leading by only five at halftime, the Cougars began matching up stronger out of their zone in the third quarter, with the guards pressuring the high post players, forcing turnovers and pressuring the Bulldogs’ outside shooting.
Ibarra fed sophomore Ziya Simms and then made a steal and outraced Pretty Prairie for a layup at the other end to give the Cougars a 36-20 lead entering the final quarter.
Central kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter, with sophomore Dazia Sims coming off the bench to score two short baskets from the middle, then feed Bartlett for another field goal underneath. Dazia Simms, a quick 5-4, then drove the lane for a short score and then hit a 10-footer in the lane to put Central up 48-24.
“We lost last Friday because we just didn’t play hard enough down the stretch,” Hett said. ”But the girls responded well tonight.”
Man-to-man faced zone as the defenses dominated the first half, with the teams battling through five ties in the first quarter.
Central’s zone got the upper hand in the second period, keeping Pretty Prairie from scoring until the final two minutes.
“I liked the way we ran our offense in the first half,” Pretty Prairie coach Scott Goering said. “:We were getting good shots, we just weren’t hitting any of them.”
Pretty Prairie’s man-to-man defense kept them in the game, as Central could not open up more than a five-point lead on a pair of three-pointers from Ibarra. The Bulldogs went scoreless until freshman Aubrey Young connected from behind the arc at 1:17 and Central carried a 20-15 lead into halftime.
“They really killed us on the boards in the first half, and we were fortunate they weren’t able to capitalize,” Hett said.
Pretty Prairie, which scored only two baskets in the third period and went nearly six minutes without scoring in the fourth, fell to 11-8 overall and 5-3 in the league.
“The difference in the game was shot – they made them and we didn’t,” Goering said. “And that’s just basketball sometimes.”
Central boys 55, Pretty Prairie 36
Deven Finlay scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the first half as the Cougars cruised past the Bulldogs in the nightcap.
Finlay, a senior, hit seven of eight free throws in the first two quarters to spark Central to a 34-18 halftime lead.
Caleb Yoder added 13 points for the Cougars (12-7 and 6-2).
Pretty Prairie fell to 2-12 and 2-6.
Pretty Prairie;12;3;5;9 – 29
Central;12;8;16;12 – 48
Pretty Prairie (29) – Harbaugh 7, Young 3, Colton 3, Hendrickson 3, Krebiel 4, Keeler 9; Central (48) – D. Simms 10, Chapman 4, Z. Simms 5, Ibarra 12, Kauffman 4, Bartlett 13.
Pretty Prairie;11;7;12;6 – 36
Central;15;19;8;13 – 55
Pretty Prairie (36) – Fairchild 4, Lane Detter 7, Graber 9, Scrag 8, Allen 8; Central (55) – Yoder 13, Lambert 1, Losew2, Hall 8, Ibarra 5, Finlay 17, Oswalt 4, Coffey 5.