CAMANCHE — With just over a week left in the Big East Conference girls basketball race, things are starting to heat up.

Camanche kept itself in the title hunt Tuesday night with a 58-43 home victory over Bellevue.

The Indians, 7-2 in the league, are one of four teams with two Big East losses. Leader Northeast has one league setback.

“We have a theme right now that the conference championship has to go through our house,” said Camanche coach Dave Grim, whose team hosts both Prince of Peace (which has two league losses) and Northeast next week. “We need to take care of business at our place, and the kids understand that. You can see their intensity at practice.”

The key to Tuesday’s win was a big third quarter. Leading 28-21 at halftime, the Indians outscored Bellevue 22-3 over the next eight minutes.

“We talked about how defense would win this game,” said Grim. “We were OK offensively at halftime, but Bellevue was getting too many good looks on our extended pressure. So we made some adjustments and closed off some things. That proved to be the difference.”

Camanche (13-4 overall) led 12-10 after one period before Bellevue (9-9, 4-5 Big East) grabbed its second and final lead at 16-14 when Jessica Handke drove for a layup with 6 minutes, 27 seconds left in the half.

The Indians followed with a 10-point run, with Shea Meyermann’s traditional three-point play starting things off.

Casey Johnson followed with a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Meyermann, Heather Hoge and Kelsay McCausland added baskets to make it 26-16 with 1:42 left.

The Comets closed within 28-21 by halftime, but that’s as close as they’d get.

Camanche opened the third period with a 17-1 run to put the contest away.

Hoge played a big part in the spurt by scoring the first six points on a field goal and two baskets.

Meyermann added two baskets during the run, while Hoge, McCausland and Allie Parker had one apiece. Alisha Espey also contributed a free throw.

Bellevue’s lone point during that span was a free throw by Handke.

By the time the third period was done, Camanche led 50-24.

Hoge finished as the game’s leading scorer with 17 points, while Meyermann added 11.

Handke was tops for Bellevue with 13 points.

“Take away the third quarter and it’s a pretty evenly-matched game,” said Grim. “Bellevue is playing everybody in the conference tough. This was a win against a quality opponent.”

Boys Game

Like the girls game, the third quarter also proved to be the difference in the boys game.

Bellevue (8-6, 5-4 Big East) trailed the Indians 14-12 at intermission before outscoring the hosts 25-11 over the next eight minutes.

“We weren’t mentally ready to play in the first half,” said Bellevue coach Ken Anderson. “Plus, you have to give Camanche credit. They did a nice job of slowing the game down and just torturing us.”

The Comets led 8-5 at the end of the first period before a 3-pointer by Camanche’s Tyler Cozzolino started a nine-point run.

Mitch Paysen scored on consecutive putback shots and Nate Duran drained a jumper in the lane to put the Indians on top 14-8 with 4:04 left in the half.

However, Bellevue’s Adam Calhoun scored a short time later and Chris Handke hit a pair of free throws to reduce the Indians’ lead to two by halftime.

It was Handke, the Comets’ 6-foot-9 senior, who doomed the Indians in the third quarter.

Bellevue began going inside to him, and he responded by scoring 15 of his game-high 23 points during the span.

Of Handke’s third-quarter points, nine came from the free throw line as it took the Comets less than five minutes to get into the one-and-one shooting bonus.

After Aaron Weinshenck drove the lane for a basket to tie the game at the start of the third period, Camanche (3-13, 3-6 Big East) grabbed its final lead on two Duran free throws.

Handke was fouled after that and made both free throws to tie the game. He added two more charity shots a short time later to put the Comets ahead by two, and Weinschenk connected on consecutive field goal attempts to put Bellevue ahead 22-16.

Duran got Camanche within four when he hit a turnaround jumper, but the Comets responded with a 9-2 run to go up 31-20.

They continued to cruise and led 37-25 after three periods and built their lead to as many as 16 in the fourth frame.

Camanche made a run late in the game, cutting the margin to eight when Nate Metzger’s 3-pointer at the 2:11 mark made it 47-39.

But Grant Zeimet countered with a basket for Bellevue and Weinschenk finished off the game with six consecutive free throws to ice the win.

Besides Handke’s output, which also included 15 rebounds, Weinschenk reached double-figure scoring for Bellevue with 14 points.

Duran led Camanche with 10 points.

Camanche coach Scott Harksen was happy with his team’s first-half play.

“Defensively, we did a good job,” he said. “Our kids have the ability to come out and get in peoples’ faces. But in the second half we let Bellevue’s pressure bother us.”

Harksen also noted Handke’s efforts.

“He’s a big strong kid who hurt us a lot in the third quarter,” he explained. “But we also need to suck it up and play better fundamental basketball. We made some silly mistakes at times.”

GIRLS GAME

Score by Quarters

Bellevue 10 11 3 19 —43

Camanche 12 16 22 8 —58

Scoring

BELLEVUE (43)

Sami Schroeder 2-3 0-0 4, Chelsea Koos 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Russell 3-7 1-2 8, Jessica Handke 6-15 1-2 13, Courtney Grutz 1-7 0-0 3, Gabrielle Sullivan 2-2 0-0 4, Katelyn Ries 1-3 0-0 3, Lindsey Knake 2-10 0-0 4, Cassie McDonald 1-3 0-0 2, Kara Ties 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 19-53 2-4 43.

CAMANCHE (58)

Alisha Espey 0-3 1-2 1, Shea Meyermann 5-12 1-1 11, Heather Hoge 6-9 5-8 17, Brianna Willis 4-13 1-1 11, Casey Johnson 1-3 0-2 3, Samantha Neumann 0-1 3-4 3, Kelsay McCausland 3-6 0-0 6, Allie Parker 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 22-52 11-18 58.

3-point goals—Bellevue 3 (Russell, Grutz, Ries); Camanche 3 (B. Willis 2, Johnson). Rebounds—Bellevue 27 (Handke 8, Knake 6); Camanche 31 (Meyermann 6, Hoge 6, McCausland 6, B. Willis 5). Steals—Bellevue 0, Camanche 10 (Meyermann 4, Johnson 2, McCausland 2, Neumann 2). Turnovers—Bellevue 24, Camanche 10. Total fouls—Bellevue 13, Camanche 12.

Records—Bellevue 9-9, 4-5 Big East Conference; Camanche 13-4, 7-2. Next games— North Cedar at Bellevue, Friday; Camanche at Lisbon, Friday.



BOYS GAME

Score by Quarters

Bellevue 8 4 25 18 —55

Camanche 5 9 11 14 —39

Scoring

BELLEVUE (55)

Scott Iosbaker 0-3 0-0 0, Aaron Weinschenk 4-8 6-8 14, Ryan Horan 3-7 1-2 7, Chase Medinger 2-9 1-3 5, Chris Handke 6-12 11-15 23, Adam Calhoun 2-3 0-2 4, Grant Zeimet 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-44 19-30 55.

CAMANCHE (39)

Nate Metzger 2-4 0-1 5, Jace Stratton 0-1 0-0 0, Justin Lind 2-4 1-2 5, Justin Hayes 0-5 0-0 0, Tyler Cozzolino 3-13 1-2 8, Tony Foster 1-1 0-0 2, Nate Duran 5-10 0-0 10, Mitch Paysen 2-3 0-0 4, Colten Hilgendorf 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 17-43 3-7 39.

3-point goals—Camanche 2 (Metzger, Cozzolino). Rebounds—Bellevue 32 (Handke 15, Weinschenk 6); Camanche 21 (Cozzolino 5, Paysen 5). Steals—Bellevue 5 (Weinschenk 2); Camanche 5 (Metzger 2, Cozzolino 2). Turnovers—Bellevue 15, Camanche 17. Total fouls—Bellevue 8, Camanche 21.

Records—Bellevue 8-6, 5-4 Big East Conference; Camanche 3-13, 3-6. Next games— North Cedar at Bellevue, Friday; Camanche at Lisbon, Friday.