PARK HILLS – The Central girls basketball team was pushed to the wire at home on Monday night, but key transition baskets and the ability to attack the basket helped the Lady Rebels prevail, 43-36 over Bismarck.
Central (5-3) received 12 points each off the bench from Kristen Gunder and Michelle Mabery in a contest that ended without a three-pointer being made. The Lady Rebels also capitalized on 26 Bismarck turnovers.
For Bismarck (2-4), Stephanie Politte delivered a strong double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds to compliment a game-high 15 ponts from Chelsey Politte, but scoring was scarce thoughout the rest of the lineup.
The Lady Rebels never trailed during the game and built an eight-point cushion early in the second half, but a series of missed layups prevented a pull-away, and allowed the Lady Indians to mount a dangerous comeback bid.
Central piled up seven team fouls in the first five minutes of action, giving Bismarck several chances to score from the free-throw line. Chelsey Politte hit 5-6 attempts during the first quarter to keep the early score even, but offensive putbacks by Jessica Lawson and Gunder helped the Lady Rebels close the opening period with a 14-9 lead.
Bismarck battled back by converting a pair of steals into baskets. Stephanie Poliitte finished a good pass inside for two points, and freshman Tori Henson buried a jumper from just inside the three-point arc to make it 20-17.
Central responded after a timeout by passing the ball inside for a Lindsey Harris basket. Jennifer Dunlap then made a mid-court steal and hit a layup on the ensuing possession.
The Lady Rebels suffered a setback just before taking a 26-20 lead at the half, as senior Katie Hammers left the game with an apparent knee injury, and did not return.
Bismarck surged back with two straight baskets by Stephanie Politte, and drew to within two points on a quick jumper by Chelsey Politte, but the Lady Rebels again had an answer. Gunder ripped away an offensive rebound and hit the follow to turn the momentum, and Mabery drilled a lengthy jumper on the ensuing possession.
Holly Blunt hit a driving layup in the closing seconds of the third to bring Bismarck to within 35-30, and Stephanie Politte scored inside with 5:00 left to make it a one-point game, but the remainder of the matchup belonged to the home team.
Gunder powered in another field goal from the low block, and Mabery added a pivotal steal and layup to widen the gap farther. A mid-range jumper by Gunder made it 41-34 with 2:44 left, and the Lady Indians surprisingly elected not to foul down the stretch.
Both teams will now look ahead to the Central Christmas Tournament with opening-round action set for Monday.
Central, the No. 4 seed, will face No. 5 Potosi at 11:30 a.m. Bismarck will draw top-seeded Fredericktown at 10 a.m.
Bismarck 9 11 10 6 – 36
Central 14 12 9 8 – 43
Bismarck – C Politte 15, S Politte 10, Blunt 5, Henson 4, Kniess 2.
3-point FG – None.
Central – Mabery 12, Gunder 12, Harris 7, Dunlap 4, Pinson 3, Lawson 2, Hammers 1, Rieger 1, Kennedy 1.
3-point FG – None.