Papillion-La Vista South and Bellevue East were both in need of a big win Friday night, but the Titans pulled out the 51-35 victory with a dominant fourth quarter.
Leading 35-31 at the end of the third quarter, the Titans (7-5) outscored the Chieftains (4-7) 16-4 in the fourth to secure the win.
The Titans have lost four of six games since Dec. 30, including a 43-40 overtime loss to Benson Saturday, and Titan coach Andy Gerlecz said a win was important for his team.
“Critical to get back in the win column there for our kids,” Gerlecz said. “It kind of felt like we were on a long losing streak.”
Bellevue East was coming off a 53-41 win over Lincoln North Star Thursday night after losing four straight.
Allison Tichy led the Chieftains with 13 points in the win over North Star while Viktoreea Cox had 12.
“It’s the January grind,” Chieftain coach Blake Anderson said. “The calendar says you’ve got to play every other day so that’s what we’re going to do.”
During Friday night’s game, the Titans led the Chieftains 10-8 at the end of the first quarter, but the Chieftains were hitting the offensive glass and finished the game with eight offensive rebounds. Tyla Bishop led the Chieftains with 13 total rebounds, three of which were offensive.
Tichy made two free throws to tie the game at 17 with 4:58 remaining in the second quarter. Since the Chieftains were controlling the boards, the Titans switched to a 2-3 zone and went on an 8-2 run to close out the half. Lexi DiGiacomo and Olivia Kastens each made 3-pointers in the run.
“That’s not what we want to do but we were struggling to guard them in the post,” Gerlecz said of the switch to the zone. “They got so many offensive rebounds in the first half it was just embarrassing, so we had to do something.”
Anderson said the Chieftains weren’t able to attack the Titan zone defense with the same success they had in the first quarter.
“We got out of our mojo,” he said. “We were attacking the rim and looking inside and feeling pretty comfortable, just missing some easy, quick shots.”
The Chieftains didn’t go away quietly. The Titans extended their lead to 11 early in the third quarter, but Bellevue East went on a 7-0 spurt over the final 1:26 of the quarter to cut the lead to 35-31. The highlight of the run was a 3-pointer by Tichy with six seconds left in the quarter.
Two quick steals and baskets by the Titans gave them a 39-31 lead at the 7:38 mark in the fourth quarter. Later, a 3-pointer by Taylor Beacom extended the lead to 47-33.
Tichy led the Chieftains with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Tyla Bishop added nine points.
Saturday, the Titans battled Benson to a 34-all tie at the end of regulation, but Benson out-lasted the Titans with a 9-6 advantage in the extra period.
On Jan. 12, the Titans lost 59-50 to Millard South. Maddie Allen led the Titans with 12 points while DiGiacomo added nine.