BAXTER — Baxter’s girls’ basketball team relies heavily on its inside presence to win games.
But on Thursday night, in front of their home crowd, the Bolts needed a few shots from downtown to put away Grand View Christian.
Insert Holly Jessen and Sophie Meyer.
Both guards buried big treys in the fourth quarter to help the Bolts claim a 44-31 victory during a Class 1A Region 7 postseason opener.
Jessen’s 3-pointer put the Bolts up 34-27, and Meyer’s dagger made sure the Thunder wouldn’t get closer than six in the final four minutes.
Meyer’s big triple came on a pass from her older sister Sadie.
“They always feel good. I have my off nights, but I was able to hit a couple tonight, and it felt good that the last one came on a pass from Sadie. That was cool,” Sophie Meyer said.
The victory is the first playoff win in Bolts history. Baxter coach Eric Padget said its only the third postseason win in the 10 years he has been part of the district.
“It feels good. We have goals, and we have to get games like this to reach those goals,” Padget said.
Kaylin Van Ryswyk still got her points inside, finishing with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
McKenzie Eslinger also scored seven points and grabbed five boards, but it was the play of Jessen and Sophie Meyer at both ends of the floor that pushed the Bolts over the top.
Jessen finished with seven points, including two big second-half treys, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Sophie Meyer scored nine points, dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds.
Six of Sophie Meyer’s nine points came in the final four minutes. She followed up the 3-pointer with three free throws that extended the lead to 41-29.
“That was a huge shot and then she made some free throws late, too. We had to have all of those,” Padget said.
Brenna Thomson, who was a big part of slowing down Grand View Christian’s best player Sydney Lane at the other end, added a free throw and Van Ryswyk scored on a putback to complete the victory.
“It feels awesome. We have gotten into a groove a little bit,” Sophie Meyer said. “We struggled early in the season, but we got going the first time we played these guys actually.”
Baxter started the year 0-6 but takes an 8-12 record into the next round against Collins-Maxwell (14-5) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Maxwell. The Bolts have won four of their last five games.
The Bolts scored the first five points of the game and led 7-2 before the Thunder (1-20) cut its deficit to 11-7 after one quarter.
Sadie Meyer’s only points of the game came early in the third when she converted a bucket inside and added a free throw to extend the lead to 14-7.
Thomson and Eslinger both scored inside the lane to push the advantage to 11, and the Bolts led 20-11 at the break.
The Bolts struggled to score early in the third quarter, and Grand View Christian took advantage to close the gap to 21-19 on a 3-pointer by Lane.
Lane finished with a game-high 17 points for the Thunder.
Baxter finished the quarter with seven in a row, four coming from Van Ryswyk and the others on a 3-pointer by Jessen.
The Thunder got within four two different times in the fourth, both coming on layups in the lane. Jessen’s second triple created some space, and the Bolts separated themselves enough to close it out.
“It was a physical game, but we stayed strong and just posted up like normal inside,” Van Ryswyk said. “I thought we rotated the ball well. We try to get the ball to whoever is hot. Those shots from outside were huge.”
Van Ryswyk and Sophie Meyer are both excited to get another shot at their former teammates in Collins-Maxwell.
The Spartans, who were in attendance Thursday, are 2-0 against the Bolts this season. They downed Baxter 44-40 on the road in early December and then used a big second half to dump the Bolts 49-34 in Collins last weekend.
“It will be fun playing old teammates,” Sophie Meyer said. “It should be a good game. Hopefully we can get another one.”