MAYNARD — A three-minute stretch showed the good.
The next two minutes showed the bad — and sent West Central into a deficit it couldn’t come back from.
The Blue Devil girls dropped their second Upper Iowa Conference contest in a week, falling 48-32 to Central Elkader on Tuesday. West Central (0-3, 0-2 UIC) trailed 14-10 with 5 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the opening half.
It closed the deficit to two on Kaydence Martin free throws, then knotted the game at 14 on Emma Michels’ layup at the 4:20 mark. Central Elkader (3-0, 2-0 UIC) immediately regained the lead with Delaney Scherf’s two foul shots.
Martin knotted the game with 2:50 left in the half on a jumper and Aaliyah Gordon’s two free throws put the home team ahead 18-16 30 seconds later.
Grace Kuehl’s three-point play 29 seconds later gave the Warriors a 19-18 lead and started a 9-0 run that spanned into the very early stage of the third quarter (25-18).
West Central scored just two points in the third and never came closer than 25-20 30 seconds into the frame.
“Their pressure got to us,” head coach Micah Ruroden said of the last 5 minutes of the second quarter. “(Elkader head coach Mark Wiley) is smart — he knew we had a back-to-back night, and it was the same gameplan as last year.
“Run our legs early and as often as you can and run them out.”
In a game marred by myriad misses and turnovers from both sides, West Central went 1 for 8 with two turnovers as Elkader turned an 18-16 deficit into a 25-18 lead. Martin’s putback cut the deficit to five but the Blue Devils didn’t score for the next four-plus minutes.
The Blue Devils trailed 9-3 and climbed within 9-7 as Martin scored twice. They were down 14-7 early in the second, then pulled within 14-10 on Gordon’s 3-pointer.
Ruroden considered it a “small win in itself” that West Central, coming off a Monday night game at Waterloo Christian, hung around for nearly two full quarters.
“We hung around, we rebounded well and located shooters early,” the coach said. “Props to our girls because they battled a lot of things. Foul troubles, turnovers, missed shots, you can go down the list. I thought for us to be in that position going into halftime, that was a small win in itself.”
Martin scored 15 of her team’s 32 points by working heavily inside.
“She’s a workhorse; I can’t say enough about her and how hard she works in the post,” Ruroden said. “Our guards, we’ve just got to get a little better at handling the pressure so we can see (her open) when it’s there right away. We’ll continue to work on it.”
Gordon added 10 while Michels added five points.