Foul trouble is one of the things the Concordia Panthers need to avoid, and couldn’t in the season opener against Beloit.
A young and inexperienced Concordia team was whistled for 31 fouls and had four players foul out in a 57-48 loss to Beloit in the season opener Friday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
There were 51 fouls called in the game, and neither team was able to seize control until the final 6:30.
“We went far into our bench much earlier than I was expecting,” Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said.
Concordia was able to get off to a good start, jumping out to an 8-2 lead, but foul trouble took its toll early.
Starters Tristen Leiszler and Jera Metro picked up two fouls each in the first five minutes of the game.
“We need those people who get the majority of the practice time and get the majority of the reps to be able to stay on the floor,” Wahlmeier said.
Beloit scored the final 11 points of the first quarter, and led 13-8.
The two teams exchanged blows throughout the second period.
Falling behind 23-15, the Panthers outscored the Trojans 6-0 over the final 2:26 of the first half to get within two points, 23-21.
Beloit pushed the lead to 26-21 in the first two minutes of the second half, and the fouls started to mount.
Molly Adams, a 5-11 sophomore, picked up her fourth foul, but still contributed four points during a 7-0 spurt that gave Concordia a 28-26 lead.
Beloit got a follow by Alicia Mallory and a three-point play by Shaylyn Krone to go back on top, 31-28.
Concordia fought back to reclaim the lead at 36-35 when Nikki Blankenbeckley hit a 10-foot jumper with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.
Kaley Broeckelman scored the final four points of the period, and Beloit led, 39-36.
Broeckelman, who scored 23 points in the game, got a steal and a layup and knocked down a short baseline jumper in the first 1:15 of the final period.
Britt Widrig connected on one of two free throws, and Beloit led 44-36.
The Trojans would extend the lead to 46-37.
A three-point play by Blankenbeckley got Concordia back within nine points, 49-40.
A steal by the Panthers resulted in a three-point shot by Leiszler and it was a 49-43 game with 2:59 to play.
Concordia came up with another steal, but couldn’t convert.
Beloit made three of six free throws in a span of 54 seconds to open up a 52-43 lead.
“Every time we would get something going our way we would shoot ourselves in the foot with a silly foul,” Wahlmeier said.
A basket by Megan James made it 52-45.
Concordia could get no closer than that over the final 1:28.
“I thought we got exposed a little bit on defense. We were standing a lot, not moving our feet. They are a pretty quick team. They made us look slow,” Wahlmeier said.
James led Concordia with 14 points. She hit 6 of 13 field goal attempts and two of four free throws.
Leiszler finished with 13 points and six steals.
Blankenbeckley added 11 points.
Krone joined Broeckelman in double figures for Beloit with 13 points.
The Trojans shot 43 free throws in the game, and made just 16.
Concordia will host Republic County on Tuesday night.
Smith 0-0-2 0, Mallory 3-3-1 9, Widrig 1-5-3 7, Krone 4-5-3 13, Broeckelman 10-2-3 23, Palen 0-1-2 1, Palmateer 2-0-5 4, Behrends 0-0-1 0. Totals: 20-16-20 57.
K. Lambert 0-1-5 1, M. Lambert 0-0-1 0, Metro 1-1-5 3, Adams 3-0-5 6, Blankenbeckley 5-1-3 11, Nelson 0-0-3 0, Leiszler 4-3-3 13, James 6-2-5 14.