YANKTON - A battle between a pair of top-five teams certainly had the feel of one.
Defensive pressure, rebounding battle and limited offensive surges. For the fourth-ranked Yankton Gazelles, all those factors resulted in a 46-37 win over number-three Aberdeen Central in Eastern South Dakota Conference girls' action Friday at the Summit Center in Yankton.
Helping Yankton (11-5) win for the fourth straight time was a stifling man-to-man defense that held the visiting Golden Eagles (12-4) to two field goals in the first quarter and 25 percent shooting for the game.
I guess when you let a team score 37 points against you, it's a pretty good thing, said Yankton senior Emily Fedders, who led the way with 16 points including her team's first nine.
After a relatively close first quarter, the Gazelles erupted for a 13-0 run midway through the second quarter to put the game seemingly out of reach.
The only real drama came in the final two minutes, when Aberdeen Central closed a 12-point deficit to just seven with 34 seconds left. Yankton was able to hit a handful of free throws, but it was a little too close for comfort for the hosts.
We're never going to be disappointed in a win. They're tough to come by in this league, but we'd like to clean up how we finish the game, Yankton coach Doug Pesicka said.
Aberdeen Central, which scored 60 points in the first meeting in early January, had just 10 points at halftime and 18 through three quarters.
We got off to such a poor start and they brought a ton of energy, Golden Eagles coach Dawn Seiler said. On both ends, we looked flat and weren't very active at all.
In what was a defensive first quarter, Yankton held the Golden Eagles to one field goal and got seven points from Fedders to lead 7-4.
Aberdeen Central battled back to tie the game at 9-9, but from there, the Gazelles got out from outside - keying a 13-0 run.
Consecutive three pointers from Chloe Cornemann and Fedders made it 15-9, five straight points from Tory Gross pushed it to 20-9, and a jumper from Cornemann gave Yankton a 22-9 cushion.
The Golden Eagles were a chilly 2-of-19 shooting in the first half, setting the tone for the final two quarters.
You have to find a way to win games when you're not shooting well, and we just didn't do that, Seiler said. We let that bad shooting affect every other part of our game.
Gross finished with 12 points for the Gazelles and Cornemann added 11 points. Yankton won the rebounding battle 28-27 with 10 from Mikala Hora.
The Golden Eagles got 10 points from Megan Jordre, and Samantha Knecht added five points and 10 rebounds.
We had some kids make some shots in the final minutes, but we should've been getting that from the first play, Seiler said.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL: Tiffany Lundberg 1-6 0-0 3, Megan Jordre 3-11 1-1 10, Samantha Knecht 1-1 3-4 5, Brynn Flakus 1-8 2-4 4, Kayla Schaunaman 0-2 4-4 4, Kayla Krueger 0-0 0-0 0, Kelsey Hannigan 0-2 2-4 2, Kelcy Schaunaman 0-3 0-0 0, Leah Beringer 2-3 0-0 5, Lauren McCafferty 0-0 0-0 0, Sara Niederbaumer 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 10-40 12-18 37.
YANKTON: Chloe Cornemann 4-12 2-3 11, Mikala Hora 0-4 3-4 3, Audrey Fuks 0-2 0-0 0, Tory Gross 5-9 1-2 12, Kelsey Fitzgerald 0-2 2-6 2, Jenn Granflaten 0-2 0-0 0, Emily Fedders 5-8 3-6 16, Sarah Ekeren 0-2 0-1 0, Courtney True 0-0 2-2 2, Vanessa Rockne 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-41 13-24 46.
Aberdeen Central (12-4)
4 10 18 37
7 22 31 46
Three-point field goals - YHS 5-7 (Fedders 3-3, Cornemann 1-1, Gross 1-1, Granflaten 0-2), AC 5-10 (Jordre 3-5, Beringer 1-1, Lundberg 1-2, Flakus 0-1, Kayla Schaunaman 0-1). Rebounds - YHS 28 (Hora 10), AC 27 (Knecht 10). Assists - YHS 10 (Hora 4), AC 4 (Jordre 2). Turnovers - AC 19, YHS 16. Fouls - AC 20, YHS 15.