RENSSELAER — A team loaded with talented guards, it was the inside presence of junior Kora Pass that scored key baskets for Class 3A No. 10 ranked Twin Lakes Tuesday at Rensselaer Central.

Pass scored seven of her eight points in the fourth quarter, including a key three-point play after the Bombers pulled within a possession of the lead, to help the Indians secure a 73-59 Hoosier Conference victory at Joe Burvan Gymnasium.

All three of Pass’s baskets in the fourth period came after RCHS, which trailed by as much as 22 points, cut into Twin Lakes’ lead. She had her team’s only field goals in the quarter during which her teammates hit 13 of 15 free throws to hold off the Bombers, who fall to 12-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.

“We had some nice passes into Kora and she finished at the bucket, had an and-one there,” said Indians coach Brad Bowsman, “and those are big buckets. I think they were within four, five points and if we don’t get those, it could have swung the other way.”

The explosive play of guards Olivia Nickerson, a sophomore, and freshman Addison Bowsman put the Indians (15-3, 2-2) up by 20 points (24-4) after the first period. Nickerson had 15 points in the period, including four of her eight 3-point baskets on the night, and Bowsman added six points to ignite a 23-0 run for the Indians.

“We just got out and were able to hit our open shooters and knock down open shots,” coach Bowsman said. “If we’re hitting shots, everything looks pretty good.”

The spurt came after Rensselaer’s all-time leading scorer, senior Jesse Ringen, picked up two quick fouls in the opening period. Once she returned to the floor in the second quarter, Ringen helped her team chip away at the lead, pulling within 11 points (36-25) by halftime.

“That first quarter, we got out of character out of what we were doing; trying to do one-on-one stuff, force stuff, I don’t know,” Bombers coach Wes Radtke said. “It’s not typical of what we’ve been doing.

“We’re down 24-4 and my leading scorer is on the bench with two fouls and most teams would have given up.”

Ringen had eight points in the second when the Bombers knocked down 7 of 16 shots. They continued to chop away at the lead in the third period, pulling within seven points at one point behind a 9 of 15 shooting performance. Freshman Taylor Van Meter had six of her seven points in the third and Ringen continued to stay hot by scoring eight points.

“I thought our energy level picked up in the second quarter and second half,” Radtke said. “I thought Avree Cain did a better job in the second quarter on; really pushing the envelope offensively and defensively. I thought Jesse did a good job overcoming early foul trouble. Morgan (Van Meter) stepped up and got us some points to keep us within striking distance. We just had to keep chipping away.

“I told the girls the first four minutes of the second half was going to dictate how things were going to go for us and I thought they responded well.”

But Nickerson had an answer whenever RCHS cut the Indians’ lead under 10 points. She had three more 3-point baskets in the third, including one with under 20 seconds remaining that gave her team a 53-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“That’s the second year in a row she’s lit us up,” Radtke said of Nickerson. “She has our number. We did some things there I thought we could handle, but credit to her, she hit her shots.”

Rensselaer used a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter to pull within 55-53. Avree Cain’s jumper at the 5:30 mark put the Bombers within a possession, but it was as close as the Bombers would get.

RCHS did have the ball with a chance at a tie or the lead before Twin Lakes scored on the other end.

“I don’t know what Rensselaer shot in the second half, but in that third quarter and halfway through the fourth they shot it very well,” Bowsman said. “I don’t recall a shot they did miss during that time frame. They’re a solid team, big team and we’re lucky to get out of here with a win.”

Twin Lakes responded with an 8-2 run of its owns for a 61-55 lead, including Pass’s three-point play and free throws by Bowsman, Addison Ward and Nickerson.

“We had to force them to take outside shots and not lay-ups and rebound well,” Radtke said. “In that last quarter we kind of lost their big girl inside a couple of times. I thought we really did a good job at that point. We just didn’t get over the hump.”

The Indians would close the game with a 12-4 run, with Pass scoring a pair of baskets and Bowsman, Hannah Hodgen and Ward going a combined 8 of 8 from the foul line.

Nickerson led all scorers with 32 points. She was 8 of 10 from 3-point range and added six rebounds. Bowsman had 23 points, including 6 of 10 from the floor and 11 of 12 from the free throw line. She also had eight assists and three steals.

As a team, the Indians finished 24 of 29 from the foul line. RCHS hit 7 of 13 foul shots.

Despite sitting the bench much of the first half, Ringen managed to score 22 points on 8 of 16 shooting. Cain and Morgan Van Meter added 10 points each and Sarah Kaufman and Taylor Van Meter had seven points each with six boards apiece.

The Indians appear to have locked up third place in the Hoosier Conference West Division with their 2-2 mark. They could face Tipton, Northwestern or Western on the road in a HC crossover game on Jan. 21.

The Bombers will look to avoid last place in the West Division with a road game at West Lafayette on Thursday night. Should they lose, they will face Lewis Cass in a crossover game next week. A win would set up a road game at Western.

Class 3A No. 3 Benton Central (20-0, 3-0 in the HC) will host Class A No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (15-3, 3-0) on Jan. 14 to decide the Western Division champion.

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