FREMONT, Neb. — Lincoln East saved its best for last Saturday night against Fremont.
The Class A No. 4 Spartans stormed back in the fourth quarter to post a 65-59 victory over the No. 3 Tigers. East moved to 10-1 while Fremont fell to 11-2.
The Spartans trailed the entire game until they surged into the lead in the final period. They outscored Fremont 21-6 over the final eight minutes to erase a nine-point deficit at the start of the quarter.
“We didn’t do a whole lot different,’’ East coach Dennis Prichard said. “I think the pace got to their legs a little bit.’’
The Tigers’ 53-44 advantage after three quarters disappeared quickly when three Spartans — Haley Peterson, Delaney Roberts and Olivia Kugler — sank consecutive 3-pointers. That began a 17-2 run that allowed East to grab a six-point lead with 2:15 left.
“We knew Lincoln East wasn’t going to go away,’’ Fremont coach Kelly Flynn said. “When they hit those 3s, it got them right back into it.’’
A full-court press also helped to fuel the rally as the Spartans forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers.
“Their depth paid off in that quarter,’’ Flynn said. “They played really well.’’
Kugler scored all 12 of her points in the second half, and Taylor Searcey added 11. Searcey, a 5-foot-9 senior, had six in the fourth quarter and made two late steals to help clinch the victory.
“Our game is up-tempo offense,’’ she said. “And the 3s were really important to us.’’
Searcey also made a key play in the closing seconds after missing the front end of a one-and-one. She got her own rebound and was fouled, this time making a pair of free throws to end it.
“One of my things is rebounding,’’ she said. “I knew I had to go get that miss.’’
Fremont was in control much of the way, leading by 13 late in the third quarter. East outscored the Tigers 8-4 to end the period and carried that momentum over to the fourth.
The Spartans won despite getting little offense from leading scorer Charley Bovaird, who averages 12 per game. She was 1 for 8 from the field and finished with three points.
“She’s our best perimeter shooter but she’s been struggling lately,’’ Prichard said. “She’ll shoot her way out of it.’’
East still finished with three players in double figures — Searcey with 14, Peterson 13 and Kugler 12.
Sophomore guard Taylor McCabe, who already has received several Division I offers, including one from Nebraska, scored a game-high 21 to pace the Tigers.
“She managed to get loose from us, especially early,’’ Prichard said. “I thought that later we did a better job of locating her.’’
Flynn, who led South Sioux City to 11 state championships before taking over at Fremont last year, is eighth all time in the state with 537 wins. The Spartans denied him No. 538.
“I told the girls how proud I was,’’ Prichard said. “This showed they can play with anybody.’’
Lincoln East (10-1)... 12 12 20 21 – 65
Fremont (11-3)......… 15 17 21 6 – 59
LE: Haley Peterson 13, Olivia Kugler 12, Delaney Roberts 6, Taylor Searcey 14, Briley Hill 8, Skylar Kreifels 7, Kylie Johnson 2, Charley Bovaird 3.
F: Sydney Golladay 8, Taylor McCabe 21, Lexie Glosser 1, Bella Keaton 6, Sarah Shepard 2, Charli Earth 10, Gracie Herman 11.