ABERDEEN — Aberdeen Central gave Yankton too many open looks in the first half Saturday and it came back to haunt them in the second.
Yankton drilled seven treys in the first half and led by as many as 19 points before hanging on for a 49-44 Eastern South Dakota Conference win at Golden Eagles Arena.
"I thought we did a poor job on the defensive end," said Central coach Dawn Seiler. "We gave them shot after shot. They were getting looks where there was nobody around them. They should knock those down. They're a good shooting team. We can't afford to give them those looks."
Yankton, to its credit, capitalized, despite playing on short rest and coming off a less-than-spectacular shooting effort a night prior.
Madison Wuebben hit three 3s, and Ellie Karolevitz came off the bench for three more, and Central had trouble finding its footing, particularly in the second quarter.
"We had two really tough shooting nights coming in, last night and then last week Tuesday," said Yankton coach Trey Krier. "It was really good for us to see our kids knock down some shots. We know we have the ability to hit shots from the perimeter. Wuebben has proven that over the course of her career. Ellie Karolevitz did a good job of stepping up with confidence and knocking down some shots tonight."
Yankton came it with a defensive game plan of its own, much of it focused on Golden Eagle center Cassidy Gough.
"We never got into a rhythm at all," Seiler said. "They had a good game plan. They were collapsing on Cassidy and we were slipping her outside because she can hit that outside shot, but then we couldn't get anybody to go to the boards. We can't be a one-person rebounding team."
But, as is often customary for the Golden Eagles, changes came at halftime.
Central buckled down defensively and slowly worked its way back into contention. Gough hit from the outside, and Emma Yeske got going on drives to the basket. Jianna Gellhaus hit a pair of threes, and suddenly the Gazelles were clinging to a three-possession lead. Then two possessions. Then one.
But they hung on.
"It's really fun to watch our kids grow over the course of the last couple years," Krier said. "Those situations that we experienced, particularly in the second half, are ones we don't handle very well the last couple years. To watch us out there, calm, cool, collected, under control, able to execute a game plan — even in the second half when things aren't going our way like they were in the first half, we were able to get the job done."
Wuebben finished with 24 points to lead all scorers for Yankton. Karolevitz had 15 off the bench.
Central was led by Yeske's 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. Gough had 15 points and six rebounds for the Golden Eagles, who collected just 18 boards total to Yankton's 23. Of those 23, however, 11 of them were offensive in nature.
"Second half, we're fighting to get back in, and we give up eight offensive rebounds," Seiler noted. "You just can't afford to give up those kinds of things. There's nights where you're flat and you don't play very well, but you've still got to do the fundamentals. Closing out defensively and boxing out on the boards. Those have to happen every single night."
Both teams head back into the fray next week, each taking on a team on a run. Central gets the as-yet undefeated No. 2 Harrisburg Tigers Thursday, while Yankton goes head-to-head with 6-1 and top-ranked Sioux Falls O'Gorman Tuesday.
Payton Wolfgram 1 2-2 5, Kelsey Oswald 1 0-0 2, Madison Wuebben 8 5-6 24, Sadie Fedders 1 0-0 2, Maddy Hochstein 0 1-2 1, Ellie Karolevitz 5 2-3 15. Totals 16-39 10-13 49.
ABERDEEN CENTRAL (3-4)
Jianna Gellhaus 2 0-0 6, Emma Yeske 6 4-6 16, Brooklyn Kusler 2 0-1 4, Cassidy Gough 5 5-6 15, Melanie Jacobs 1 0-0 3. Totals 16-29 9-13 44.
YANKTON 11 21 8 9 — 49
ABERDEEN CENTRAL 9 4 14 17 — 44
3-pt FG — YAN 7 (Wolfgram, Wuebben 3, Karolevitz 3); AC 3 (Gellhaus 2, Jacobs). Fouls — YAN 12; AC 15. Fouled out — YAN (Hochstein). Rebounds — YAN 23 (Wuebben 6); AC 18 (Gough 6). Assists — YAN 1 (Fedders); AC 4 (Kusler 2). Turnovers — YAN 14; AC 17. Steals — YAN 7 (Oswald 2, Wuebben 2); AC 3 (Kusler 2).