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Peru overtakes Caston in fourth quarter for win

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MOVE IT: Peru junior Courtlynn Crowe (C) gets the fast break going after picking up a deflected pass during Tuesday night’s non-conference girls’ basketball game against Caston. Crowe would score a co-game high 19 points in the Tigers’ 50-46 win over the Comets.
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SALTED AWAY: Peru freshman Cate Wolfe closed down Tuesday night’s non-conference girls’ basketball game with Caston down the stretch, knocking down 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter and scoring 11 of her co-game high 19 in the frame, helping the Tigers hold off the Comets 50-46.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

Peru and Caston entered Tuesday night looking to get their first win of the girls’ basketball season on the board after both teams opened the season with a loss.

A sluggish second quarter for the hosts gave the Comets a lead to work with for much of the second half but the Tigers saved their best effort for the final quarter to edge out a 50-46 win.

Peru head coach David Weeks was pleased to see the team pull the win out down the stretch.

“It’s always nice to get the first win of the season,” Weeks said. “More importantly, we’re happy for the girls the way they played; they came together and there was no quit in the girls.

“They stuck with the game plan, believed in each other and saw things come together like we’ve been working on in practice.”

The hosts got off to a slow start as Caston opened the game with the first six points before the Tigers got into gear, scoring nine of the final eleven points to take a slender 9-8 lead into the second quarter.

Peru couldn’t get out of first gear in the second period, however, and the combination of Emily Holt and Brianna Hubenthal accounted for all 11 Comet points in the period, giving the visitors as 19-15 lead at halftime.

Despite trailing, Weeks saw several good signs from the team during the first half.

“The girls saw when we did the things we work on in practice, it gave them the confidence to do those things on the floor,” Weeks noted. “We just had slow starts to both quarters.”

The first half had been a slow one for both teams but by the time the third quarter ended, both squads had nearly doubled their halftime scores.

Caston stretched their lead out to eight as Holt and Hubenthal chipped in five points apiece during the period but couldn’t separate themselves fully from Peru.

Much of that came down to Courtlynn Crowe on the other end as the junior scored 10 points in the quarter to keep the Tigers within striking distance.

Weeks said the squad stayed in the contest by bringing a different level of intensity into the second half.

“We came out with good energy to start the third quarter and didn’t let (Caston) build the lead more than it already was,” Weeks said. “It was big to have that energy.”

Trailing by five going into the final period, the hosts finally moved back in front after a string of stops and multiple-chance scores on the offensive end.

Caitlyn Mongosa hit a free throw to move Peru within two at 37-35 but missed the second, only for Crowe to snag the offensive rebound and be fouled.

Crowe hit the first and missed the second yet Julia Weeks got the offensive rebound and when her shot missed, Crowe was there again, getting the rebound and scoring to give the hosts a 38-37 lead.

The Tigers then grabbed a steal at the other end with Crowe feeding Cate Wolfe on the break for a layup and a 40-37 advantage.

Carlee Marburger was the next to grab an offensive rebound on a miss and be put on the line, knocking down one-of-two from the line for a four-point lead.

The stretch showed one of the biggest changes between halves according to Weeks as the squad got after things underneath the baskets.

“The girls followed shots and got put backs because they were hungrier for rebounds than earlier in the game,” Weeks said. “We weren’t being complacent; we worked and fought harder for position underneath.”

Layne Oliver scored to cut the gap in half and with just under two minutes to play, Crowe picked up her fifth foul.

Holt tied the game shortly thereafter but Wolfe took the lead back for good with a basket and two free throws.

Wolfe would then salt the game away from the line, knocking down five-of-six at the stripe while the defense kept the Comets at bay save for a late Holt three.

Crowe and Wolfe each ended the game on 19 points, as did Holt for Caston, with Weeks excited for what the Peru pair showed throughout the game.

“Courtlynn stepped up when she needed to,” Weeks pointed out. “She took over the game in the third quarter for us.

“Cate didn’t play like a freshman tonight; she played like an upperclassman and hit some big free throws for us. It was big for her confidence to see what she can do.

“It was also good for Caitlyn to step in when Courtlynn went out to run the offense,” Weeks added about the senior guard. “We didn’t really miss a beat in that situation where a year ago, Caitlyn might not have been able to do that.”

Peru will turn its attention to Culver Military Academy Friday night with Weeks wanting to see more of the same effort the team displayed during the second half against Caston.

“We want to see the confidence that the girls gained tonight carry over to Friday,” Weeks said. “We need to come out with the same energy and intensity, like we did in the second half, into a full 32 minute game.

“The girls are starting to understand their roles better, their strengths and we want to see that throughout a full game.”