Since its struggles during the Waverly Holiday Tournament in late December, the Gross girls basketball squad has gone back to the winning ways it enjoyed early in the season.
The Class B No. 8 Cougars pushed their win streak to three games with Saturday's 58-44 victory over River Cities Conference foe Ralston Saturday night. Gross (7-3) also posted a 60-30 win over Abe Lincoln earlier in the week.
After a 5-1 start, Gross dropped both its games over the holiday break, averaging just 40 points in the process. A win over Class C-1 power Bishop Neumann got the Cougars back on the winning path.
“That Neumann win was huge for us and probably turned the corner for our season,” Cougar coach Fr. Steve Emanuel said. “When we're focused on doing what we need to do, we're a pretty good team.”
Saturday's win didn't come without a fight against the 1-8 Rams, who have played better than their record indicates.
Ralston led 13-12 after one quarter and had the game tied at 18-all following a Jade Adler 3-pointer with 3:20 left in the second quarter.
But the remainder of the half belonged to the Cougars as a 12-0 put them in front for good.
A Christine Felty jumper started the run and a Kayla Johnk 3-pointer ended it. Lauren Shymkewicz's bucket pulled the Rams back within 10 by the break.
“The first 14 minutes was about as well as we could play,” Ram coach Nellie Buchta said. “Then they get three straight buckets off turnovers and that's really the difference.”
Emanuel said he wasn't surprised the Rams put up such a fight throughout the game.
“We knew they'd be ready for us and we expected a struggle,” Emanuel said. “We finally started playing our game and were able to extend the lead.”
The lead grew to 20 by the end of the third quarter and never got less than 13 the rest of the way.
Joelle Overkamp poured in 19 points to lead all scorers while Johnk added 14. Overkamp is coming off knee surgery and Emanuel says she continues to get stronger each week.
“She's still not 100 percent, but she's at the point where she could play an entire game now,” Emanuel said.
Ralston's loss was its seventh to a team with a winning record this season. For a team that has just two seniors, Buchta continues to see improvement.
“We're very young, but we're seeing tremendous growth,” she said. “You get some of the inconsistencies that come with youth, but they're starting to feel more comfortable.
“We've got good young kids we're building around. They just need to keep believing and gain that confidence.”
Shymkewicz had 10 points and seven rebounds to lead the Rams while Adler netted nine points and Randi Henry eight.
Gross 60, Abe Lincoln 30 - A 23-point second quarter lifted the Cougars to the easy victory Thursday night.
Gross hit 7 of 11 3-pointers in the game, four from Johnk and three from Overkamp. Johnk finished with 18 points and Overkamp had 14 to go along with six assists.