By KEVIN THOMPSON
DEERFIELD - After playing one of their best games of the season on Monday night in a win over Bucklin, the Lady Bulldogs were hoping to carry that momentum into Deerfield.
They needed that momentum, too, as they crawled back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit.
But it was not enough as the homestanding Lady Spartans showed their own tenacity in holding on for a 35-34 win.
"We had a good effort tonight," said Deerfield coach Dough Crandall. "We really worked hard. We just made too many mistakes at the end, but those are 'young' mistakes but we're going to learn from them and next time it will be better."
Crandall's team held the Bulldogs (9-8) scoreless for a number of streaks, including the first of three minutes in the first and second quarters.
Deerfield (10-7) built a 16-10 lead in the second after holding Ingalls scoreless for nearly four more minutes.
Ingalls stalled out for over five minutes in the third quarter before finally getting on track, scoring three straight times to end the quarter while forcing turnovers from Deerfield during that span.
Just 20 seconds into the fourth, Tara Whipple took a pass from Jane Droste to tie the game at 26 and gain the upper hand.
Then Ingalls stopped scoring again, this time all the way to the 2:21 mark.
In the meantime, the Lady Spartans caught fire and built a nine-point lead.
They needed all nine of those points, as Ingalls held them scoreless for the rest of the game.
Droste scored a layup on a steal to close the gap to seven. Cristina Wyatt hit a free throw. Rebecca Wyatt hit a field goal and two free throws.
Suddenly Ingalls was within two with just 44 seconds remaining.
Then they fell on hard times. Unable to hit either of two attempts on their final possession, the Lady Bulldogs' rally fell just short.
"It couldn't have been a bigger 180," Ingalls coach Roger Thurlow said. "We played some of our best basketball (Monday) night and played probably our worst tonight."
He said his team never really looked in sync as five girls at once, and that Deerfield seemed composed and under control for most of the game.
"We gave it a heck of a run but you can't get down by eight with three to go and expect to beat many teams," he added. "We came out flat. If we come out with energy, we can stay in the game."
Ingalls was forced to play without junior forward Taylor Bleumer, who is out for the season with an ACL she sustained Friday.
Bleumer was having a solid year at the post, averaging 10 points per game, while being the catalyst of the Bulldogs' half-court trap, Thurlow said.
"The main thing we can from this game is how composed we looked at the end," he added. "We've just got to get back to work."
With three games next week, Crandall said his team has things to work on the rest of this week, such as bringing the ball up the court against pressure and hitting free throws.
After going 18-of-42 against Lakin on Saturday, they shot only 3-of-21 on Tuesday, or this game would have been less stressful to coach.
"We shoot it well in practice," he said. "We were shooting it better until recently. It's just a mental thing right now."
See box score in Scoreboard, Page B2.