BELOIT — Bouncing back and forth between prosperity and adversity, the Concordia High School girls’ basketball team opened its season with a hard-fought 63-61 victory over Beloit Friday night.
Concordia jumped out to a big lead early, got into foul trouble, allowed Beloit to catch up, opened up a 14-point halftime advantage, and then relinquished that lead.
The Panthers reclaimed the lead early in the fourth quarter, and knocked down six of eight free throws over the final 3:04 to lock up the two-point win.
“In the past we didn’t always battle through that kind of thing. That was good to see,” Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said.
Concordia prospered in the opening minutes, scoring the first eight points of the game.
The Panthers then faced some adversity in the form of foul trouble.
Starters Molly Adams and Maggie Lambert each picked up two fouls in the first quarter.
Concordia led 14-5 when Beloit reeled off nine straight points to pull even at 14-14 heading into the second quarter.
A basket by Jennifer Boley and a free throw by Megan James in the first 53 seconds of the second quarter gave the Panthers a 17-14 lead.
Kaley Broeckelman scored on a drive, and Beloit was down 17-16.
Tristen Leiszler made four free throws and a three-point basket during a 10-0 Concordia spurt that extended the lead to 27-16.
It was a 31-22 game when Leiszler outscored Beloit 10-5 over the final 2:50 of the first half to put the Panthers up 41-27.
Leiszler scored 24 of her 30 points in the first half.
Foul trouble continued to mount for Concordia early in the second half.
Lambert picked up her third foul nine seconds in, and Megan James was whistled for her third 53 seconds in.
The Panthers still led 44-30 when James completed a three-point play with 6:27 to play in the third period.
Beloit would put together a 17-2 burst to take its first lead of the game, 47-46.
A layup by Lambert put Concordia back up 48-47, but Britt Widrig scored, and Beloit led 49-48 heading into the final quarter.
A basket by James 23 seconds into the final period put Concordia back up 50-49.
Beloit made two of four free throws to reclaim the lead at 51-50.
Leiszler hit a three, and Adams and James each went one of two from the free throw line, and Concordia led 55-51.
The Trojans battled back to tie the game at 60-60 when Shaylyn Krone made one of two free throws with 1:51 remaining.
Leiszler drew a foul just six seconds later, and made both free throws to give Concordia a 62-60 lead.
Broeckelman made one of two free throws, and Beloit trailed 62-61.
Leiszler was fouled again with 32 seconds on the clock. She made the first free throw, but missed the second, and the Panthers were up 63-61.
Alison Palen missed a three-point attempt that would have given Beloit the lead, and a Concordia player tipped the ball out of bounds.
Broeckelman missed a shot, the Panthers grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock.
“I was worried about fouls, and I was worried about our legs, and those things did rear their ugly heads. I was proud of the girls for battling through that,” Wahlmeier said.
James finished with 18 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Panthers.
Boley came off the bench to score seven points.
Adams had five points and eight rebounds.
Hunter Mendenhall, filling in because of foul trouble in the first half, did not score but grabbed eight rebounds.
Broeckelman led Beloit with 22 points.
Remi Behrends scored 11 for the Trojans and Krone added 10.
Concordia plays at Republic County on Tuesday night.
Gumm 0-0-2 0, Lambert 1-0-4 2, Adams 2-1-4 5, Eshbaugh 0-1-4 1, Boley 3-1-4 7, Leiszler 7-11-3 30, James 6-6-4 18. Totals: 19-20-25 63.
Wilson 0-0-4, Mallory 1-0-1 3, Widrig 2-0-2 4, Krone 2-6-2 10, Broeckelman 8-5-3 22, Palen 0-2-3 2, Palmateer 1-2-3 4, Behrends 5-1-4 11. Totals: 19-19-21 61.