COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa — Coming off a tough, three-loss week, the Columbus Community High School girls basketball team received no reprieve from its schedule.
Next up on the docket was Tuesday night's matchup with a 10-win Pekin squad on a four-game winning streak and near the top of the SEISC North standings.
That didn't slow the shorthanded Wildcats, who outscored the Panthers by 19 in the first half and held on for a 46-44 win.
"We had to weather the storm. The girls really stepped up tonight," Columbus coach Kasey Keltner said. "We were really shorthanded as it was. We only played seven girls. ... [But] we got five stops at the end that we had to have."
Led by point guard Martha Anaya, who scored their first six points, the Wildcats (4-10, 3-10) got off to a good start on both ends of the floor, outscoring the Panthers (10-3, 10-3) 31-12 in the opening two quarters.
"Martha got off to a really good start offensively for us," Keltner said. "By her doing that, it spread confidence for us."
Kelsey Pretz led the Wildcats with 21 points. Anaya chipped in with 10 points while Claire Hamilton scored eight.
Pretz came up big in the second half as the Panthers rallied with Anaya forced to the bench due to foul trouble. The senior forward took over ball-handling duties for the Wildcats and hit a key free throw down the stretch as Columbus held on for a big win.
"Tonight she was just on," Keltner said of Pretz. "It's hard to stop her when she's shooting like that."
LONE TREE 52, WAPELLO 38: Lone Tree outscored the Arrows 43-15 through three quarters as they rolled to victory.
Mattie Smith scored nine points and Aubrey Melvin added eight for Wapello (6-8, 6-7).
HIGHLAND 61, LOUISA-MUSCATINE 44: Caitlyn Guldenpfennig scored 12 points and Lani Hillard added 10 but L-M (0-13, 0-13) couldn’t overcome a 31-24 halftime deficit at Highland High School.
Cheyanne Adamson led the Huskies (10-5, 8-5) with 22 points.
MID-PRAIRIE 53, WEST LIBERTY 52: The Comets came up just inches short of overtime as Kayla Kaalberg's jumper at the end of regulation was ruled a two-pointer instead of a 3-pointer.
West Liberty (1-14, 1-12) trailed by 14 points with 3:30 left in the game, but its rally came up just short when Kaalberg, who scored a team-best 15 points, grabbed a loose ball and hit the jumper with her foot on the line.
Hailey Daufeldt chipped in with 10 points, Molly Kelly scored nine points and Audra Bridenstine chipped in with eight points for the Comets, who hit a school-record nine 3-pointers.
IOWA CITY REGINA 69, DURANT 50: Class 2A No. 11 Regina dropped 27 points on the Wildcats in the second, including five 3-pointers, putting Durant (5-9, 3-8) in an insurmountable 19-point halftime deficit at Durant High School.
“[Regina] didn’t miss much that first half,” Durant coach Doug Frett said. “I was very happy with the girls battling, … we just couldn’t ever get any closer.”
Hannah Stein led the Regals (11-2, 10-2) with 19 points. Courtney Ralfs paced the Wildcats with 18 points and Janey Botkins added 11.
TIPTON 40, WILTON 33: The Tigers rallied from a 6-point halftime deficit to defeat Wilton (5-7, 4-6) and end a 5-game losing streak at Tipton High School.
Wilton’s Grace Austin scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the first half.
Tipton (3-11, 3-10) got 11 points each from Kara Gravert and Ellie Siech.
WASHINGTON FRESHMEN 57, MUSCATINE FRESHMEN 28: Abigail Estabrook led the Muskies with eight points as Washington entered halftime with a 30-8 lead. Brina Kraft chipped in seven points and two steals.
WEST LIBERTY 69, MID-PRAIRIE 62: Brett Becker scored 25 points and Kyle Miller added 19 to lead the Comets to the win.
West Liberty (5-9, 4-9) took control in the second quarter when they outscored the Golden Hawks (7-6, 6-4) 28-20.
WILTON 57, TIPTON 45: The Beavers took control in the first half, building a 30-19 halftime lead, and held on for their fourth straight win.
Tyler Hetzler poured in 23 points to lead Wilton (8-5, 6-5) while Javin Drake chipped in 11 points.
IOWA CITY REGINA 60, DURANT 54: Class 2A No. 6 Regina escaped Durant High School with a 60-54 victory over the Wildcats.
Drew Cook had a game-high 26 points to lead Regina’s offense. Four Wildcats (4-11, 3-9) scored in double figures and Will Bentley was the top scorer with 16 points.
The Wildcats trailed Regina (14-0, 12-0) 26-24 at halftime and 38-36 after three quarters.
LOUISA-MUSCATINE 58, HIGHLAND 55: The Falcons trailed by eight points early but fought back for their fifth straight win by outscoring Highland 17-9 in the fourth quarter.
Austin Bohling and Logan Osborn scored 17 points each to lead the streaking Falcons (5-7, 5-7) while Blake Kemp chipped in with 11.
WAPELLO 64, LONE TREE 61: The Indians (3-9, 3-7) stayed close with Lone Tree throughout the game, finally pulling ahead in the final minute for the victory at Wapello High School.
Brayden Lanz and Tucker Massner scored 20 points each, with Lanz nailing four of the team’s seven 3-pointers on the night. Collin Poe added 13 points.
PEKIN 81, COLUMBUS COMMUNITY 66: Jared Bond scored a game-best 35 points to lead Pekin to its 11th straight victory.
Columbus (3-11, 3-9) trailed by only four at the end of the first quarter, but Pekin added to its lead each quarter to slowly pull away. Chase Fink led the Wildcats with 28 points.