In a game you heard Friday evening on AM 1480 KAUS, the Lyle/Pacelli Athletics girls basketball team played their home opener for the 2023-2024 season versus the Crusaders of Mankato Loyola, and trailing by as many as 18 points at one time in the second half, the Athletics were able to edge to as close as five points, but a late 3-pointer and two clutch free throws for the Crusaders proved to be just enough to give them a 39-32 victory.
The Athletics led 2-0 at the start of the game, but Loyola used offensive rebounding, a defense that forced 12 Lyle/Pacelli turnovers, and seven 3-pointers to go on two different 12-0 runs to take a 24-9 lead at the half. The Crusaders pushed their lead to 31-13 early in the second half, but LP then came storming back, as the Athletics used a 14-2 run of their own to close the gap to five points at 34-29 late in the second half. Unfortunately for Lyle/Pacell, the Crusaders had an answer, as a 3-pointer from guard Gabby Bemmels blunted the Athletics momentum and pushed the lead back to three possessions at 37-29. LP would not go quietly, however, as they were able to trim the lead back to five at 37-32, but they would get no closer as two free throws from forward Maddie Huiras with just over 1:00 to play helped to seal the 39-32 win for Loyola.
Junior guard Kirsten Koopal led the Athletics in scoring Friday night with nine points, Elizabeth Frederick drained two of LP’s three 3-pointers in the game for six points, both Madeline and Morgan Klankowski tallied six points apiece, Lexi Lewis drilled a 3-pointer in the second half during LP’s comeback attempt for three points, and Autumn Drennan added two points.
With the loss, Lyle/Pacelli is out to an 0-2 start, and the Athletics return to action in Lyle Tuesday night versus Spring Grove in the Southeast Conference, with the varsity tip-off scheduled for 7:15 p.m.