BAXTER — Brooke Bacon and three other seniors on Baxter’s ranked girls’ basketball team got an opportunity to start on Senior Night against Colfax-Mingo on Monday night.
And Bacon took full advantage of her opportunity.
On an otherwise sloppy and sluggish night of basketball, Bacon buried a 3-pointer to start the game, hit another trey to make it 10-0 and her third 3 of the quarter put the Bolts in front 15-4.
The Tigerhawks played much better after the first few minutes, battled the Class 1A No. 12 Bolts for all 32 minutes and kept the score respectable during a 48-39 Baxter win.
Without Bacon’s early production, Baxter head coach Eric Padget is not sure his team leads at halftime.
“She doesn’t make those 3s and we are down at halftime. She’s a good shooter. She did a good job,” Padget said after the win.
The Bolts’ regular starters never seemed to get their footing until the second half. Colfax-Mingo played with more effort than in recent games, according to C-M coach Blake Warrick, but the Bolts shot just 29 percent from the floor.
“Going with an all senior lineup, you run the risk of that happening for sure,” Padget said. “It might have affected our rhythm.”
The Bolts (18-2) led 17-8 after one quarter. Colfax-Mingo stayed within single digits for the entire second quarter.
Abi Rawlins and Brennan Rhone hit three free throws to make it 17-11 and then four straight points from Kyra Lester trimmed the margin to 19-15.
McKenzie Eslinger finished with nine points in the game and four of them came late in the half to put the Bolts up six at the break.
The Tigerhawks packed the paint to deny Eslinger the ball. That opened up outside shots for the Bolts, but they made only 6-of-29 from 3-point range.
“The effort was better than it had been the last few games. We have to give effort the entire time and we did that tonight,” Warrick said. “Denying the post is something that we’ve been working on throughout the season because we play so many tough post players. I thought we did a good job throughout the night keeping it out of the post and forcing more outside shots.”
The Bolts started the game with a 12-0 run and a 10-0 spurt in the third created even more separation. That stretch included seven points from Elie Tuhn, who finished with a team-high 11 points along with seven steals and three rebounds.
Tuhn’s final points, a 3-pointer, during that stretch made it 37-23.
“It did take a little while to get into rhythm,” Tuhn said. “I think that’s why we had a better second half. We just couldn’t make open shots tonight. That was part of why we struggled offensively.”
Colfax-Mingo (5-15) trailed by 13 after three quarters, but didn’t go away quietly. Maddie Pierce’s trey made it a 16-point deficit, but the Tigerhawks rallied behind an 8-0 run that included four points inside by Lester. Colfax-Mingo finished the game on a 12-2 run to get the final margin to single digits.
“The third quarter run was huge,” Padget said. “We needed to start the half with some energy. Switching defenses frustrated them a bit, too. The 1-3-1 confused them.
“They never stopped. They were scrappy. Give them a bunch of credit.”
Both teams turned it over way too much. C-M shot 33 percent from the floor but went 0-for-9 from 3-point range and committed 34 turnovers. The Tigerhawks were 15-of-17 from the foul line.
Lester led the way with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Rhone scored 12 and Madison Riddle finished with four points, five rebounds and five steals.
Caylee Cunningham had four rebounds and three steals and Abi Rawlins scored three points and pulled down three boards. Carley Underwood battled foul trouble the entire game and fouled out midway through the fourth.
“The effort was there. We just have to protect the basketball,” Warrick said. “We turned it over way too many times. We took some quick shots off the press. We never got into a good rhythm. Our defense kept us in the game, but we need to score more points.”
Bacon finished with nine points and four rebounds, Pierce added eight points and three boards and Lilie Vansice chipped in four points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Sophie Meyer tallied six rebounds and three steals, Mandee Selover grabbed six boards and Merrin Ziesman pulled down three rebounds.
Baxter out-rebounded the Tigerhawks 39-28 but committed 24 turnovers and made just 5-of-10 from the foul line.
“We were flat footed and didn’t play with a lot of energy. I hate making excuses but we’ve played an NBA type schedule the past two weeks,” Padget said. “We practiced for 45 minutes last Wednesday and this Wednesday will be another 45 minutes. We have played a lot of games recently.
“We just haven’t gotten a lot of practice shots up and need to get our legs back under us.”
Notes: The Bolts went with an all-seniors starting lineup of Pierce, Ziesman, Bacon, Lexi Samson and Cassy Berg. Only Pierce is a regular starter in that group. The other seniors recognized after the game were Meyer and Eslinger. … The Bolts open Class 1A regional play at home against BGM at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Baxter. … Colfax-Mingo opens 2A regional play against Van Meter at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 in Van Meter.