By BRETT MARSHALL
ULYSSES — She stands just 5-foot-4 and is just a freshman. Soaking wet, she might tip the scales at 100 pounds.
But put Katie Pfeifer in a basketball uniform with the No. 4 on her back, and she transforms herself into as big as any player on the floor when the Holcomb Lady Longhorns take the court.
Tuesday's game was evidence of that as Holcomb beat Ulysses 49-40.
At the start of the third quarter the score was knotted at 35. That's when Pfeifer broke out — scoring five in the final quarter — to spark the Lady Longhorns. The biggest shot came just 29 seconds into the fourth period when she knocked down a 3-pointer to give Holcomb the lead for good.
"She's just done a great job for us," Holcomb girls coach Kelley Snodgrass said of Pfeifer. "She's hard to pressure, she's making big shots, getting the ball to the right people and doing what a point guard should do."
Pfeifer finished the game with 12 points while her teammate, junior Breanna Gottschalk led the scoring attack with 14 points, including 4-of-6 3-point baskets.
"I don't think we played particularly well," Pfeifer said. "We turned it over too many times (20) and didn't shoot all that well (15-of-42, 35.7 percent) so I know we can play better, but it still feels good to get the win."
Pfeifer said she thought her ability to remain calm when the game is close and her ball-handling skills, were her strongest assets on the court.
"The older players have really been nice and helpful," Pfeifer said. "Everybody has a different role and everyone has their own strengths and my job is to get the ball to them in the place where they can have success."
Ulysses took a 10-8 lead after one quarter and maintained it to 23-21 at halftime. Courtney Anthony kept the Lady Tigers on track with eight of her 10 points in the opening half. In the third quarter, the game continued to be nip-and-tuck as the score was tied on six occasions and the lead exchanged hands on five times.
With the game in the balance to start the final quarter, it was left to Pfeifer to begin the closing period with her 3-pointer that set the tone for the finish.
"Coaches told me not to question whether or not to shoot," Pfeifer said. "When I look at the season, I was just hoping I would make varsity, I would have been glad just to do that. Getting to play a lot and starting — that's been nice."
Ulysses (11-9) pulled within 41-40, with 3:25 remaining when sophomore Kaylea Britton scored but the Tigers would not put another point up on the board. Holcomb's 8-0 run to close out the game included five free throws, four by junior Heidi Boyles, a charity shot by Pfeifer and a critical 3-pointer by Gottschalk at the 2:40 mark.
"In the first half, it looked like we were wearing them down and in the second half it looked like they were wearing us down," Ulysses coach Eric Flaton said. "They shoot the ball better than us and I thought we'd rebound better. Gottschalk is just a terrific player and we gave her some space and she just hit big three's."
Britton scored 12 points to pace Ulysses and Anthony contributed her 10. The Lady Tigers managed to hit just 18-of-50 field goals (36 percent) and went to the free throw line twice, hitting both. Holcomb was 13-of-19 at the line.
"We did a good job in the first half of not putting them on the line," Flaton said. "We knew they were solid and they hit the free throws when they needed to."
Holcomb 49, Ulysses 40
HOLCOMB (15-4) — Pfeifer 3-13 4-7 12, Lohfink 1-2 0-2 2, Baier 1-3 0-0 2, Asmus 1-3 0-0 2, Gottschalk 4-7 2-2 14, Komlofske 2-2 0-0 4, Boyles 1-4 6-6 8, Pena 2-4 0-0 4, A. Stegman 0-2 1-2 1, Landwehr 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-42 13-19 49.
ULYSSES (11-9) — Meierhoff 2-5 0-0 5, Jarnagin 2-5 0-0 4, McCauley 2-5 0-0 5, Anthony 5-13 0-0 10, Spencer 1-4 0-0 2, Monzon 1-5 0-0 2, Britton 5-12 2-2 12, Rodriguez 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-50 2-2 40.
Holcomb 8 13 14 14 -- 49
Ulysses 10 13 12 5 -- 40
3-point goals — Holcomb 6-12 (Pfeifer 2-5, Gottschalk 4-6, Boyles 0-1), Ulysses 2-4 (Meierhoff 1-2, McCauley 1-1, Monzon 0-1). Rebounds — Holcomb 37 (Gottschalk 12), Ulysses 28 (Britton 7). Turnovers — Holcomb 20, Ulysses 18. Fouls — Holcomb 12, Ulysses 16. Fouled out — Ulysses (McCauley).