Not being able to close the gap late in their opening game wasn't exactly confidence-building for the Lyons girls basketball team.
But hosting a tough foe in Clear Creek and succeeding on Friday night may just do the trick, especially given the Golddiggers have dominated the past few games in the series of late.
Behind Ixchel Leeuwenburgh's team-leading 13 points, nine of which came after halftime, the Lions were able to beat Clear Creek for just the second time in the past six meetings, this time a 34-32 squeaker that went down to the final ticks of the clock.
On a night when the Lions struggled overall to hit shots (making just 13 of 36 field goal attempts), Leeuwenburgh provided a steady presence in the post as the hosts had to buckle down after holding the lead most of the game. When Clear Creek took its first lead, 29-29, and then a second advantage at 31-30, it was Leeuwenburgh that finished down low for the final four points of the night to help get the win.
"Being a post is a hard role to fill, and it's a lot of big girls going against each other and playing hard all game long," said Leeuwenburgh, who doubles as a standout volleyball player. "For me, I just decided to be confident and know that I could make those shots and I know my team will rally around me if I don't."
With both teams coming off opening losses — the Lions fell to Liberty Common — something had to give.
For the Golddiggers, the outcome might have been different were it not for missing 8 of 11 free throws. For Lyons, it was a matter of staying the course and taking care of the ball down the stretch.
Taylor Christiansen was the only other player to score in the fourth quarter, but Liz Jonjak had seven points and Madison Johnson had six points in the win. Leeuwenburgh also added six rebounds and had a nice assist in the fourth quarter to Christiansen on a give-and-go, which answered Clear Creek's first lead of the game to make it 30-29.
"Wednesday night was a hard battle and something we had to learn from and grow from, and we worked together as a team and moved the ball around well," Leeuwenburgh said.
Lyons 34, Clear Creek 32
At Lyons HS
CLEAR CREEK (0-2)
O'Brien 2 0-0 4, Zabel 1 0-0 2, Dixon 3 0-0 6, Werlin 4 1-4 12, Fahnline 1 0-2 2, Abrahamson 0 1-2 1, Singleton 0 0-0 0, Lucas 2 1-3 5. Totals 13 3-11 32.
Maguire 1 0-0 3, Johnson 2 2-2 6, Walker 0 0-0 0, Jonjak 3 0-1 7, Leeuwenburgh 5 3-4 13, Christiansen 2 0-0 5, Hall 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 5-7 34.
Score by quarters:Clear Creek 8 4 10 10 — 32
Lyons 10 6 10 8 — 34
3-point field goals — Clear Creek (3): Werlin 3; Lyons (3): Maguire, Jonjak, Christiansen. Fouled out — Leeuwenburgh.