BELMONT — Belmont turned in a tremendous second-half performance to rally past the Albany Comets for their first victory of the season.
Senior forward Briana Ernst poured in 19 of her 21 points in the second half as the Braves erased a nine-point halftime deficit by outscoring the visiting Comets 45-21 in the final stanza to earn a hard-fought 76-61 non-conference prep girls’ basketball victory at BHS on Thursday, Nov. 30.
“We did an excellent job of competing and playing hard all night. Even though we were behind at halftime, we felt good about how we were playing. We felt that Albany couldn’t maintain their shooting percentage, and we needed to clean up the turnovers,” said Belmont head coach Alan Seabrooke. “Our defense forced Albany to take tough shots in the second half, and we took care of the ball, which led to a huge scoring output in the second half.”
The Comets (1-5) sank six 3-point baskets in the opening half to bolt out to a 40-31 halftime lead on the Lady Braves (1-3). Junior guard Abby Althaus dropped in four 3-pointers and tallied 14 points in the first half, while senior forward Kassandra Palzkill added 12 points in the half to keep the Braves close.
Ernst knocked down seven baskets in the second half, including a trey, and she went 4-of-5 from the foul line in the second half to spark the Belmont comeback. Palzkill chipped in with nine points and junior Sadie Willborn added seven points in the second half for the Braves, who converted 15 of their 28 free throw attempts in the closing stanza.
After having eight players combine for 14 made field goals– eight 2s and six 3s– in the first half, the Comets hit just four shots– two 2s and two 3s– in the second half as Belmont picked up the pace on the defensive end of the court as well. Albany scored 11 of their 21 points from the foul line in the second half.
“It was great to see the girls put together a game like that, because I have thought for a while that this group is capable of playing like that every night. Hopefully we can keep building on that game,” remarked Seabrooke.
Ernst and Palzkill finished with 21 points apiece to lead all scorers in the game. Althaus pumped in 16 points, while Willborn scored seven and junior point guard Nicole Knebel added six points.
At Belmont, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, Belmont put together another strong second-half surge after falling behind 38-19 to Argyle in the first half, but the visiting Orioles held on to defeat the Braves, 68-53, in an intra-Six Rivers non-conference clash.
Jena Saalsaa tallied 13 of her game-high 23 points in the opening half to lead the Orioles (4-1) out to a 19-point halftime advantage.
Argyle’s lead swelled to as many as 23 early in the second half, but the Braves kept chipping away at the deficit until they got it down to 11 on a 3-pointer by Abby Althaus with 4:10 to play.
The Orioles went 7-for-10 from the foul line down the stretch to keep the Braves at bay.
“The first half was ugly. We weren’t ready to play and didn’t play hard in the first half. We got things corrected and played well in the second half. Argyle is a good team, but it was a great learning experience for us,” commented Coach Alan Seabrooke.
Kassandra Palzkill led Belmont with 17 points. Briana Ernst added 15 points, while Althaus netted nine and junior Callie Wiegel tallied seven for the Braves.
Belmont has Six Rivers West games at home against Potosi on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., and at Highland on Saturday, Dec. 9, at 5:30 p.m. The Lady Braves head to Fennimore for a non-conference contest on Tuesday, Dec. 12, also at 7:30 p.m.
Argyle……… 38 30 – 68
Belmont…… 19 34 – 53
Argyle – Morgan Nelson 6, McKenzee Granberg 6, Alexis Leigh 4, Kirsten Ostby 7, Alysabeth Lantz 11, Jena Saalsaa 23, Jadyn Saalsaa 5, Leah Flanagan 4, Natalie Allison 2. Totals – 24 16-29 68.
Belmont – Abby Althaus 9, Kassandra Palzkill 17, Briana Ernst 15, Kylie Crapp 3, Callie Wiegel 7, Sadie Willborn 2. Totals – 17 14-31 53.
3-point goals– A 4 (Granberg 1, Je. Saalsaa 2, Ja. Saalsaa 1), B 5 (Althaus 3, Crapp 1, Wiegel 1). Total fouls– A 27, B 23. Fouled out– A: Lantz, Ja. Saalsaa, Allison; B: Wiegel.
Albany……… 40 21 – 61
Belmont……. 31 45 – 76
Albany – O’Bel 2, Kahler 11, Freitag 8, Anderson 12, Stefanik 4, Mortaloni 10, Beck 3, Zurfuhl 10, Flannery 1. Totals – 18 17-30 61.
Belmont – Abby Althaus 16, Elsie de Haan 1, Nicole Knebel 6, Kassandra Palzkill 21, Briana Ernst 21, Callie Wiegel 2, Sadie Willborn 7, Chelsey Douglas 2. Totals – 27 16-31 76.
3-point goals– A 8 (Anderson 4, Mortaloni 1, Zurfuhl 3), B 6 (Althaus 4, Ernst 1, Willborn 1). Total fouls– A 25, B 26. Fouled out– A: O’Bel, Kahler; B: Willborn.