The only thing that could slow Mullen’s big surge was the halftime break on Tuesday and that run was the key for the Broncos in their 57-53 win over North Platte St. Pat’s at the McGahan Activities Center.
In the beginning, however, it was the Lady Irish (9-4) who were in control. Up 6-5 in the first quarter, Kate Stienike made a three-pointer to put St. Pat’s ahead by four. Tonja Heirigs followed with a three-point play to make it a seven point lead.
The Irish led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter after Heirigs got a layup to go down at the buzzer. St. Pat’s scored the first three points of the second from the free throw line with one made by Rachel Heiss and the other two coming from Mae Siegel.
“We were getting out in transition and running really well,” St. Pat’s coach Nathan Stienike said. “We were fresh and that helps a lot. Things were easy for us, offensively in that first quarter.”
But Mullen (11-2) raced back by scoring the next nine points. The Irish built their lead back to 28-21 after Heiss hit a three. But the Broncos scored the last seven of the first half. They tied the game when Samantha Moore picked the pocket from Heiss, ran down the court and laid it in with eight seconds left until halftime.
Mullen took the lead on Kylie Licking’s basket to open the second half. Brooke McCully then put in her own miss to make it a four-point game. Then Moore drained a three before Taylor Svoboda drove in uncontested for a layup to make it 37-28.
“It was real tough to get things going in the second half,” Stienike said. “Their defensive pressure wears on you. We had some silly turnovers and we weren’t very strong with the ball.
The Broncos led 43-36 at the end of the third quarter. The Irish pulled to within 43-41 early in the fourth quarter. But Moore responded by scoring the next two baskets and then Svoboda nailed a three from the right corner to push the lead back to nine.
St. Pat’s had one last push left. They pulled to within 56-53 after Heirigs made a free throw with 48 seconds left. The Irish had a chance to tie but Heirigs’ attempt from three drew nothing but air. McCully then made one of two free throws with five seconds left to ice the game for Mullen.
“We started really good but I think at the end of the second quarter, we ran out of gas,” Stienike said. “Then in the second half, we give up a couple of buckets and we’re down again. We were just battling that whole second half and we could’ve just gave up but we kept fighting. We had a shot at the end but it just didn’t work out.”
Next, St. Pat’s will host Overton (10-2) on Friday.