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Big second half surge allows Belmont to rally past Darlington
Bel-Darl GBB Palzkill Jacob color
BELMONT FORWARD Kassandra Palzkill (#10) scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second half to lift the Lady Braves past Taylor Jacobson (#25) and the Darlington Redbirds, 53-31, at BHS on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

    BELMONT – The second half has been Belmont’s time to shine lately.
    The Lady Braves scored the first 13 points in the second half to erase a two-point halftime deficit and then rolled on to defeat the Darlington Redbirds, 53-31, in a girls’ basketball game at BHS on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
    It was the second game in a row Belmont (7-3 overall) rallied from behind in the second half to post a victory as they ended 2015 riding a three-game winning streak. The Redbirds (2-7) fell for the third straight game.
    “We’ve been doing a good job in the second half lately. I’d like to see us turn that into two good halves, but it’s good to see the resiliency in the kids,” said Belmont head coach Alan Seabrooke. “They’re listening to what we talk about at halftime and are going out and using it on the floor.”
    Darlington held a 21-19 lead at the intermission, but baskets by Caitlyn Gilbertson and Kassandra Palzkill early in the second half put the Braves into the lead. After Gilbertson tied the game at 21, Palzkill knocked down three straight shots to put the hosts up 27-21.
    Gilbertson added a putback and senior guard Brook Knebel chipped in with a basket and a free throw to extend the lead to 32-21.
    “The girls could sense (Darlington was) panicking a little bit. We put some pressure on them, enough to make them uncomfortable. That got us going offensively as well,” explained Seabrooke.
    Kennedy Rankin’s putback with 9:56 remaining finally got the Redbirds on the scoreboard in the second half, and it jump-started an 8-3 run that brought them back within six at 35-29 following a free throw by Emma Crist with 5:36 to play.
    Belmont answered back by outscoring the ‘Birds 18-2 the rest of the way to run away with a 22-point victory.
    Palzkill scored 12 of her game-high 16 points in the second half to fuel the Braves’ comeback, and she pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for a double-double.
    Briana Ernst chipped in with 14 points and five rebounds for the Braves. Gilbertson netted nine points along with five rebounds, five steals, three blocked shots and three assists, while B. Knebel added seven points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
    K. Rankin and Crist each scored seven points to lead Darlington. Taylor Jacobson tallied six points apiece for the ‘Birds.
    “It was a great way to end 2015. We hope to start off strong in 2016,” Seabrooke stated.
    Belmont has upcoming Six Rivers West road games at Cassville on Thursday, Jan. 7, and at Benton on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
    Darlington will host Iowa-Grant on Thursday, Jan. 7, and is at Riverdale on Tuesday, Jan. 12, in SWAL action.

Darlington…  21   10 – 31
Belmont……  19   34 – 53
    Darlington – Sadie Fitzsimons 5, Chelsea Golackson 2, Molly McDaniel 2, Emma Crist 7, Taryn Rankin 2, Taylor Jacobson 6, Kennedy Rankin 7. Totals – 11  3-11  31.
    Belmont – Trinity Rucker 1, Nicole Knebel 2, Kassandra Palzkill 16, Briana Ernst 14, Lydia Leahy 2, Caitlyn Gilbertson 9, Brook Knebel 7, CJ Vickerman 2. Totals – 22  9-21  53.
    3-point goals– D 2 (Fitzsimons 1, K. Rankin 1), B 0. Total fouls– D 20, B 17.