PIERCE — Pierce trailed by two at halftime but went on a 7-1 run to start the second half and never looked back in a 57-39 win Thursday over Class D’s third-ranked Humphrey St. Francis.
With the win, the Bluejays were able end a three-game losing streak.
"We've had a pretty tough schedule to this point," Pierce coach Darren Sindelar said. "We've been close on some things, so it was good to be able to get over the top and get a victory over a good, quality team in Humphrey St. Francis."
St. Francis coach Bryan Reichmuth was disappointed with his team’s performance.
"We just got outplayed in every aspect of the game," he said. "I thought we were prepared, but we got totally outplayed."
St. Francis led 12-8 after one quarter, but three-pointers by Kayla Simmons and Abbey Fuerhoff sandwiched around a Maggie Brahmer put-back gave Pierce a 16-12 advantage just over a minute into the second.
The Flyers then went on a 10-6 run as Allison Weidner's bucket from the left of the lane tied the game at 22.
Both teams played well offensively in the second quarter as they combined to shoot over 50 percent from the field (12 for 23), including four for nine from three-point range.
Neither side led by more than four in the first half and St. Francis took a 26-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.
But the third quarter was all Pierce.
Kenzie Moeller turned a Flyer turnover into a layup on the other end and Brahmer's offensive rebound and put-back gave the Bluejays the lead for good 28-26.
"The second half just wasn't Flyer basketball," Reichmuth said. "They took us out of our game. Give credit to Pierce, but we weren't ready to go."
Pierce's size and depth revealed itself most clearly in the fourth quarter. Kyleigh Sjuts pulled the Flyers to within six at 39-33 with 6:43 to play, but from there the Jays went on a 12-0 run. Zoe Brenden's layup off a press-breaker made it 51-33 with 3:35 remaining.
Reichmuth refused to use his school's smaller enrollment — St. Francis is a Class D2 school while Pierce is in Class C1 — as an excuse. "We can't back down from anybody and we want to compete every time we're on the floor," he said.
Sindelar said multiple players stepped up, as he called the effort a good team win.
"Early on, Maggie (Brahmer) was able to get inside and shoot the ball and score for us but I thought Zoe Brenden did a nice job at the high post for us in attacking the basket and I though Kayla Simmons, when they went to a zone, was able to hit some outside shots.
"It was good to see Kenzie Moeller get in the scoring book because she got into some foul trouble early and I thought everyone who came in contributed."
Both teams were to have played in tough road games on Friday night: Pierce at Hartington Cedar Catholic and St. Francis at Clarkson/Leigh.
"We'll talk about gut-check time and effort, Reichmuth said. "Pierce outworked us tonight and we've got to outwork our opponent."
Humphrey St. Francis 12 14 3 10 — 39
Pierce 8 16 10 23 — 57
HUMPHREY ST. FRANCIS (12-2): Allison Weidner 5 2-2 13; Sydney Engel 0 0-0 0; Peighton Eisenmenger 1 0-0 2; Kyleigh Sjuts 2 0-0 2; Tara Foltz 4 3-6 12; Lauren Pfeifer 2 0-1 4; Kaylee Striklin 1 0-2 2; Alissa Kosch 2 0-0 4; Totals 16 5-11 39.
PIERCE (7-5): Abbey Fuerhoff 1 0-0 3; Kayla Simmons 4 2-2 14; Kenzie Moeller 2 6-6 11; Zoe Brenden 4 1-3 9; Brianna Aguilera 0 1-2 1; Maggie Brahmer 9 1-3 19; Abbey Meier 0 0-4 0; Totals 20 11-20 57.
3-point field goals: St. Francis 2 (Weidner, Foltz), Pierce 6 (Fuerhoff, Simmons 4, Moeller); 2-point field goal percentage: St. Francis 14 for 41, 34.1 percent, Pierce 14 for 29, 48.3 percent; 3-point field goal percentage: St. Francis 2 for 11, 18.2 percent, Pierce 6 for 18, 33.3 percent; Rebounds: St. Francis 34, Pierce 36; Fouls: St. Francis 18, Pierce 12; Turnovers: St. Francis 12, Pierce 8.