Playing without their leading scorer, Kaleigh Kummer, the North Platte St. Pat’s Lady Irish missed shots near and far as they were dealt their first defeat of the season by Cambridge, 52-40, on Saturday at the McGahan Activities Center.
“Cambridge, they used their size and athleticism to cause us fits with their zone,” St. Pat’s coach Nathan Stienike said. “We struggled to hit outside shots. We tried to get into the paint and we struggled there too. All around, we struggled to put the ball in the hole.”
Cambridge (13-6) led 18-15 at the end of the first quarter. Hayley Homan scored the first basket of the second to bring St. Pat’s (20-1) within one. She had a chance to give the Irish the lead but she missed a layup in transition.
The Trojans took advantage by holding St. Pat’s scoreless the rest of the first half while scoring six points themselves to lead 24-17 at halftime.
“We really struggled to find a bucket in that second quarter,” Stienike said. “The good thing was our defense stayed steady and we held them to only six points, so we felt pretty comfortable at halftime being down by only seven knowing we hadn’t played our best.”
Just like she did a quarter earlier, Homan opened the scoring in the second half. But without their top scorer and floor general, Kummer, who injured her ankle at Chase County on Friday, St. Pat’s could never get on track.
This helped Cambridge extend the lead. Korynn Clason and Chloe Craig scored baskets before Clason made a pair of free throws to make it 30-19 with a little over three minutes left in the third.
The Lady Irish appeared to end the third quarter with some momentum as Calli Groseth scored in the final seconds to make it 32-25. But on the ensuing inbound pass, St. Pat’s was called for a foul away from the ball which gave the Lady Trojans free throws as they were already in the bonus.
What made matters worse for the Irish was that Stienike, who was seated on the bench, was given a technical foul. Clason, all by herself on the other end, calmly drained all four free throws to make it an 11-point game all of a sudden.
That turn of events pretty much did St. Pat’s in, as the closest they got in the fourth quarter was eight and Cambridge took the win.
Next, the Irish finish the regular season by hosting Hershey (14-5) on Thursday.