STROMSBURG – After leading by as much as eight points early in the third quarter Saturday afternoon in Stromsburg, the Cross County Cougars saw that advantage dwindle to just a two-point edge midway through the quarter.
But the Cougars didn’t panic. Cross County head coach Mitch Boshart said his team settled down and leaned on the experienced players that were on the court during that stretch. The Cougars wound up finishing the third on a 6-3 run, and got a corner 3 to fall from senior guard Amanda Giannou that pushed the Cross County advantage to 26-21 heading into the fourth.
The Cougars controlled the final eight minutes of play, outscoring Heartland 14-10, along the way to their 40-31 win.
“They (Heartland) went on their run, but the thing is – we have some girls that have played a lot of basketball together and work well with each other,” Boshart said. “We’ve had the injury bug recently, but the girls are coming back from that. It’s nice to have girls that are pretty cohesive out there on the court.
“The big shot was Amanda’s three at the end of the quarter – that really sprung us in the fourth.”
The two teams were tied at 9 at the end of the opening quarter, but Cross County was the one that made a run in the second that resulted in an 18-12 advantage at halftime.
The Cougars outscored Heartland 9-3 in the second quarter, with its man-to-man defense shutting down the Huskies’ attack. Meanwhile, Cross County’s Cortlyn Schaefer scored five of her team’s nine second-quarter points while Erica Stratman and Austyn Ostrom both chipped in with layups – Ostrom’s was off an offensive rebound under the rim just before the buzzer at half.
Stratman recorded a double-double on Saturday with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Schaefer netted a game-high 15 points and drilled two 3s while grabbing six boards, three steals and blocking three shots.
Heartland’s Odessa Ohrt was a thorn in the side of the Cougars to start the second half. She scored five of her team’s six points to start the third and went 3 of 4 at the free-throw line.
Cross County started the fourth strong. Following a post bucket from Stratman that made the Cougar lead 29-23 with five minutes remaining, Heartland head coach Greg Veerhusen tried to stop the momentum with a timeout. But Cross County never let up after the stoppage in play and finished the game by outscoring the Huskies 11-8 to seal the win. The Cougars went 5 of 9 at the line in the last two minutes while Stratman and Schaefer found room inside the Huskies’ 2-3 zone for layups. Josi Noble picked the pocket of a Heartland ball handler and raced down the other way for a break-away layup, too.
Ohrt led the Huskies with 14 points. Both Kalea Wetjen and Cassidy Siebert chipped in with seven.
Heartland (5-5) 9 3 9 10 – 31
At Cross County (8-4) 9 9 8 14 – 40
Heartland scoring: Odessa Ohrt 14, Kalea Wetjen 7, Cassidy Siebert 7, Allison Kroeker 2, Lilly Carr 1.
Cross County scoring: Cortlyn Schaefer 15, Erica Stratman 12, Josi Noble 6, Amanda Giannou 5, Austyn Ostrom 2.