By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Preston closed the third quarter on a run to cut Camanche’s lead to 35-31 heading into the fourth quarter Friday night.
But the Indians (12-2, 7-2 conference) had the answer in a battle between two of the three teams tied in the loss column atop the Big East standings.
Camanche started the quarter with six straight points and scored 15 of the first 21 points to earn a 55-44 win.
“We found some offense,” Camanche junior Kylie Vogel said. “We moved the ball extremely well.”
Courtney Sowle scored on a putback, was fouled and converted the three-point play. After a Preston turnover, Vogel drilled a 3-pointer to make it 41-31.
“To their credit they hit some big shots, big 3s and that took the wind out of our sails,” Preston coach Mike Kelly said. “We had a nice little run going, too. That was the turning point of the game.”
Preston (11-3, 8-3) had a chance to get right back in the game but shot 2-of-5 from the free-throw line on its next three possessions. Cassie Aldis made a layup to cut Camanche’s lead to six, but Vogel responded.
She knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Indians their biggest lead of the night at 47-35 with five minutes to play.
“Once you make one, I guess they all start to fall,” Vogel said.
Something other than Vogel’s shooting that hurt the Trojans was being without Brooke Krogman for the early part of the fourth quarter. Krogman led Preston with 10 points through three quarters — she finished with 12 — but picked up her fourth foul with 3 seconds left in the third quarter.
“We had a girl at the scorers table to get her out of there with three fouls at the end of the third quarter,” Kelly said. “(Krogman) got one as she was sitting there. That was a tough deal for us.”
Julia Moore scored on Camanche’s first possession, and while Preston tied the score twice, the Trojans never took the lead.
“I think playing from ahead is always an advantage,” Vogel said. “Once you have the momentum, it just continues to go when you’re in the lead.”
The Indians got a lift from Jordan Nissen late in the first quarter. With Preston trailing by two, Nissen nailed a jump shot. She scored six Camanche points in a row, with the third breaking a 12-12 tie. After that shot, the Indians never relinquished the lead.
“She came in and she gave really good minutes off the bench,” Vogel said. “It was great.”
Ryleigh Keeney made a 3-pointer to pull Preston to within 20-19 late in the first half, but Camanche scored eight of the next 10 points to re-establish its lead.
“It’s tough,” Kelly said of coming from behind. “You expend a lot of energy. It’s takes a little out of your legs, and it takes a little out of you mentally.”
Vogel hit six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 20 points. Cassie Aldis, led the Trojans with 14 points, five coming in the final two minutes when the game was seemingly out of reach.
“We had a plan to not let her get anything easy,” Vogel said. “I thought (Lindsey Grams and Nissen) did a really good job on her.”
In the team’s first meeting, Aldis scored a game-high 21 points and Vogel was held to six in a nine-point Preston win.
“We talked about how we didn’t really play very well the first time we played them,” Vogel said. “We needed to go out and show them that we’re just as good as them. We can hold our own against anyone.”
The loss means Preston needs both Camanche and Bellevue, which play each other today, to lose in order to have a chance at the final Big East Conference title. The Trojans play Bellevue on Tuesday.
“We talked about that after the game,” Kelly said. “We just need to worry about ourselves right now. We can’t look at our schedule or everybody else’s schedule. There’s a lot of games to be played still. We have to look at our next game and try to get better.”
The Indians still have two games against Bellevue, but they control their own fate, meaning if they win out, they’ll be the conference champions. Vogel said that would be very cool, but all they were focused on was today’s matchup with the Comets.
“I think we just have to bring some energy and be ready to play,” she said.
CAMANCHE 55, PRESTON 44
PRESTON (11-3, 8-3) — Cassie Aldis 5 2-4 14, Ryleigh Keeney 3 0-6 8, Lizzie Meier 0 0-0 0, Brooke Krogman 4 4-5 12, Rose Strait 1 0-0 2, Gabriela Vasconcelos 1 0-0 2, Emily Strait 2 1-2 6, Sabrina Lippens. Totals 16 7-17 44.
CAMANCHE (12-2, 7-2) — Kylie Vogel 6 2-2 20, Courtney Sowle 2 6-7 10, Brettan Hilgendorf 0 5-8 5, Lindsey Grams 2 2-5 8, Julia Moore 3 0-0 6, Libby Schnoor 0 0-0 0, Jordan Nissen 3 0-0 6, Jordan Goldbeck 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 15-22 55.
Preston 8 11 12 13 — 44
Camanche 12 10 13 20 — 55
3-point goals — Preston 5 (Aldis 2, Keeney 2, E. Strait); Camanche 8 (Vogel 6, Grams 2). Total fouls — Preston 18; Camanche 17. Fouled out — Krogman, Keeney.
Rebounds — Preston 31 (Keeney 9, Meier 7); Camanche 38 (Moore 13, Sowle 8). Turnovers — Preston 10; Camanche 16.