By KEVIN THOMPSON
DIGHTON — Friday's matchup of two of the state's top teams in Class 1A-II turned out to be exactly as it was billed.
In the final quarter, the Ingalls Lady Bulldogs overcame a 6-point deficit and turned it into a 51-48 win in the Dighton gym.
Ingalls held the Lady Hornets scoreless for nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter and turned that into a 14-0 run, then held on in the closing minute to get the win.
Dighton, ranked second, and Ingalls, ranked seventh and the defending state champions, clashed for the first time since last year's low-scoring affair, 34-23, one of Ingalls' 25 wins in its undefeated season.
Both teams rely on their senior posts, but both players spent significant time on the bench with fouls in the first half.
Ingalls' Rebecca Wyatt picked up her second foul just 77 seconds into the game and sat the rest of the first quarter, when Leslie Speer scored six and grabbed five boards as the Hornets took a 15-10 lead at the first break.
Then Speer sat the final six minutes of the second quarter with her second foul, and Wyatt scored five points in her absence as the Bulldogs tied things at 25 at the break, thanks in part to eight free throws in 13 attempts in just the second period alone.
Dighton, whose two losses have come to top-ranked in Class 1A-I Hoxie in two different tournaments, took a 4-point lead in the third before Speer picked up her third foul and sat yet again. Yet, the Hornets were still able to take a 38-32 lead on a Kiara Budd 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining.
But they ended the quarter with three straight turnovers, portents of worse to come.
As Dighton went cold in the fourth, they turned it over seven straight trips, leading to 10 Ingalls' points.
In that span, Hope Beach drove for an easy bucket and Wyatt hit her for another on the next possession for the tie at 42.
Kaisha Batman got the lead on another close shot and Wyatt hit a pair of free throws and a spin-move bucket for the 48-42 lead.
Dighton finally hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds remaining to close the gap to four and finished with a pair of baskets in the final seconds, but it was too late.
Wyatt finished with 18 points, with Batman and Beach pumping in 14 and 12, respectively.
Speer led the Hornets with 12, while Liz Heath added 11.
For Ingalls coach Roger Thurlow, it was a quality win against a quality team, and it happened in a time when his girls have now won six straight, including the league tournament title last weekend.
With just one senior in Wyatt, the rest of the long-term players are freshmen and sophomores, and they stepped it up, he said.
"They've grown up leaps and bounds every week, and they're really understanding this is their team, too, not just Becca's," Thurlow said.
When Wyatt sat, that group took over, keeping the first quarter close, he said, and with Wyatt returning, they just meshed in the second quarter, when the defensive pressure caused six turnovers.
Dighton had 26 turnovers for the game, a credit to a half-court trap that pressured the Hornet ballhandlers.
"I give a lot of credit to the girls," Thurlow said. "Becca started to front their high post, which is something we never do. We started taking away their looks to the corner. When we took those two options away, they didn't know what to do."
Dighton coach Amy Felker echoed that assessment.
"That last little bit some of our game plan let down a little bit," she said. "We weren't creating the opportunities they were creating early on. Things weren't clicking for us right then."
Credit the Ingalls defense for stepping up when they needed to, she added.
"But overall I'm really proud of our defensive effort," Felker said. "We knew coming in it was going to be a tough game."
Both teams have a dominant post, and when they have to sit, she said, others have to step up, and Ingalls just did it better this time.
Felker still believes in her team (11-3), especially with a tough sub-state with the goal of returning to state.
"We're still kind of young with a couple freshmen on the court," she said, "but everybody does their role on any given night. That's what I like about this team."
Thurlow likes his team's steady improvement. Now at 11-4, he sees them going in the right direction.
"Talent-wise, this is the most talented team we've seen (in an opponent)," Thurlow said. "This was a huge win for us. If we continue to improve like this, who knows?"
Ingalls 10 15 9 17 -- 51
Dighton 15 10 13 10 -- 48
Ingalls (11-4)--Beach 4 4-6 12, Batman 6 2-5 14, Wyatt 5 8-9 18, Galaviz 3 1-3 7. Totals 18-51 15-24 51.
Dighton (11-3)--Brown 1 0-0 2, K. Budd 1 0-0 3, Cramer 3 1-2 7, Heath 5 1-4 11, L. Speer 5 1-2 12, S. Budd 2 4-4 8, J. Speer 2 1-2 5. Totals 19-41 9-14 48.
3-point goals--Ingalls 0-4, Dightono 1-4 (K. Budd). Rebounds--Ingalls 17 (Wyatt 5), Dighton 23 (L. Speer 9). Turnovers--Ingalls 24, Dighton 25. Fouled out--Wyatt, Brown. Total fouls--Ingalls14, Dighton 20. Technical fouls--none.
Dighton 58, Ingalls 48
The Dighton boys found the going a little tougher than they thought, but they prevailed over Ingalls, 58-48.
After trailing 49-32 to end the third quarter, Ingalls got to within 10 a number of times in the fourth to give the Hornets plenty to handle.
But the last time that happened was with :43 seconds to play, and Dighton managed the clock the rest of the way.
Mathew Barnett led Dighton with 19 points, 13 in the first half. Matthew Mulville added 11 and Tyler Lingg 10.
Zach Batman paced Ingalls with 19 points, 15 of those in the second half. LaMontae Heady added 12.
Dighton improves to 8-6, while Ingalls falls to 5-8.
Ingalls 5 13 14 16 -- 48
Dighton 15 15 14 14 -- 58
Ingalls (5-8)--Batman 7 3-9 19, Dwyer 3 0-2 8, Baxa 2 0-2 4, Schmidt 1 0-0 3, Heady 5 1-2 12 Whipple 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 4-15 48.
Dighton (8-6)--Alinor 2 1-2 5, C. Horn 2 0-0 4, Lingg 4 2-2 10, Habiger 1 0-0 2, C. Mooman 3 1-3 7, Mulville 5 0-0 11, Barnett 8 3-6 19. Totals 25 7-13 58.
3-point goals--Ingalls 4 (Dwyre 2, Heady, Schmidt), Dighton 1 (Mulville). Fouled out--none. Total fouls--Ingalls 15, Dighton 16. Technical fouls--none.