An uncharacteristically slow start for the Belle Plaine Tigers looked like it might be their undoing as they crept behind the Tri-City United Titans on Tuesday night, Feb. 11.
After the Titans buried a quick 3-pointer, the Tigers struggled to find an offensive rhythm. After Belle Plaine took a momentary led at 6-3, the Titans surged ahead and scored 14 unanswered points on a seemingly stunned Belle Plaine lineup. A series of thwarted efforts left the Tigers searching for options as they trailed 17-6.
Tiger junior guard Sarah Lenz finally ended the onslaught with a pair of clean free throws. Another Lenz free throw put the Tigers down by 8 points, 17-9.
With five minutes left of the clock, Belle Plaine managed to slow TCU’s aggression, but still struggled to find an offensive rhythm of their own.
Scrappy defense from Belle Plaine guard McKenna Ziemke and forward Leah Lenz offered some damage control as the Tigers settled for an 8-point deficit to close out the half, trailing the Titans 20-12.
A seemingly energized Tiger squad entered the second half patient but hungry as they forced TCU into low-percentage shots from within the arc.
Belle Plaine point guard Jaylen Struck-Schmitz finally tied things up with a booming 3-pointer to put both teams at 23. Another big shot from Struck-Schmitz gave the Tigers the lead back as they led the Titans 25-24.
The Tigers then began creeping ahead in what proved to be a half of basketball characterized by stubborn defenses from both teams.
Belle Plaine Guard Hayley O’Brien shined on several plays and managed to pick off multiple Titan passes at crucial times, stymieing any would-be comebacks from TCU.
The Tigers bided their time and incrementally added to their lead, largely from the free throw line.
With a minute in the contest, the Tigers led the Titans 44-33, traded fouls led to the contest ending the Tigers up 46-35, giving them their 12 Minnesota River Conference win.
The Tigers lost to Waseca Thursday night 54-48 against TCU.