COUNCIL BLUFFS — Alexis Spielman isn't a dribbler by nature. And she heard her coaches on the sideline.
But neither stopped the Council Bluffs Lewis Central junior late in the fourth quarter on Thursday night at St. Albert. The 5-foot-7 forward pulled down a rebound on a potential game-tying shot, then went the length of the floor for a layup in traffic to help spark the Iowa Class 4-A No. 9 Titans past the upset-minded Saintes 41-33.
“I'm not too comfortable with (ball handling); I get nervous like anybody else,” Spielman said. “But it was open, so I took it.
“I was scared I was going to get yelled at, but it went in.”
The coast-to-coast play with 2:44 remaining gave L.C. some breathing room after the Saintes misfired on three consecutive shots that would have tied the game or given them the lead down 33-31.
Senior Aubrey Norville collected the final two of her game-high 19 points on a feed from Paige Beacom on Lewis Central's next possession. St. Albert (7-5) got back within 37-33 on a Kylie Ferguson layup with 2 minutes left but couldn't find the net again. The visitors hit their final four free throws to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
Ferguson finished with a team-best 14 points and eight boards, and teammates Alli Wettengel and Nevada Meis each added six points. For Lewis Central, Norville collected 10 rebounds, while Spielman added 11 points.
L.C. coach Derek Archer said Spielman's rebound and basket gave the Titans the lift they needed — even while he was wanting to milk some clock.
“Coaches are yelling, 'Slow down. Bring it out. Bring it out,' ” Archer said. “But she saw an opening and she took it and it was a fantastic play by her. It was a huge two points.”
The Titans (11-1) looked well on their way to a ho-hum victory early on against their Class 2-A crosstown opponent. They led 27-14 late in the second quarter as Beacom and Dana Doebelin each connected from long range.
But St. Albert scored six straight before halftime as part of a 17-6 run that lasted until Spielman's driving layup. Lewis Central managed just two buckets and two free throws in the stretch, which covered nearly 15 minutes of game time.
“This was one of our better defensive games of the year,” St. Albert coach Dick Wettengel said. “Ironically it was a coast-to-coast that really broke our back. We didn't blow many assignments, but that was a big one.
“You're not in it for a moral victory, but if you measure our growth from last year to this year, we've gotten a lot better. Last year it was not a game.”
Lewis Central won that matchup 60-21.
Both sides committed 16 turnovers Thursday and combined to shoot 4 of 27 from 3-point distance. Each coach said fatigue became a factor as their teams continue to weather the busiest portions of their seasons.
“We really expended a lot of energy in the first half, and our legs weren't quite there in the second half,” Archer said. “But I'll give credit to St. Albert — they played great. They really got after us and had a good game plan going in.”
The Titans had held three straight opponents under 20 points before encountering the Saintes. But the home team shot just eight free throws — making five — while L.C. went 13 of 22 at the line.
Both squads return to action Friday. St. Albert hosts Omaha Concordia, while Lewis Central welcomes in league foe Denison-Schleswig.
“This (win) feels good at the end,” Spielman said. “We have to keep pulling together and give everything we've got.”
C.B. Lewis Central (11-1) ................. 11 18 3 9—41
C.B. St. Albert (7-5) ................. 7 13 6 7—33
LC: Dana Doebelin 1-1 0-0 3, Natalie Madsen 0-2 3-5 3, Paige Beacom 1-4 2-2 5, Madison Paulson 0-1 0-0 0, Alexis Spielman 5-10 1-2 11, Aubrey Norville 6-14 7-13 19, Kye Madsen 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 13-34, 13-22 41.
SA: Faye Assmann 0-5 0-0 0, Kylie Ferguson 6-16 2-2 14, Josie Thomas 1-3 3-4 5, Alli Wettengel 2-7 0-0 6, Nevada Meis 3-6 0-0 6, Matti Munger 1-2 0-0 2, Nicole Rollins 0-3 0-2 0, Emma Munger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-42 5-8 33.
3-point field goals: LC 2-11 (Doebelin 1-1, Natalie Madsen 0-1, Beacom 1-3, Paulson 0-1, Spielman 0-4, Kye Madsen 0-1), SA 2-16 (Wettengel 2-7, Thomas 0-2, Ferguson 0-4, Assmann 0-3). Rebounds: LC 28 (Norville 10), SA 23 (Ferguson 8). Assists: LC 6 (Beacom 3), SA 3 (Meis 2). Turnovers: LC 16, SA 16. Technical fouls: Dick Wettengel, SA. Total fouls: LC 11, SA 13. Fouled out: None.