COLUMBUS — Columbus High head girls basketball coach Dave Licari knew his team faced a tall task heading into Saturday’s home game against South Sioux City, the No. 1 team in Class B and defending state champion.

For the most part, Licari thought his Discoverers handled the Cardinals’ attack well in a 55-39 loss.

“I’m super-pleased with the effort level the girls have shown the last two nights,” the CHS coach said.

Columbus went on a 10-2 run spanning the end of the third quarter and first three minutes of the fourth to make it a 46-35 game.

The Discoverers had a couple of possessions to get the deficit to single digits, but the offense went cold.

“We just could never get that next shot to fall,” Licari said.

The Cardinals eventually scored nine straight points to put the game away.

The second quarter was the deciding point in the game.

South Sioux took an 8-5 lead into the second period, then exploded for 26 points in the next eight minutes to go up 34-17 at the break.

“Defensively, we got a little tired in the second quarter and when we did, they took advantage,” Licari said.

The Cardinals only scored 29 points total in the other three quarters. In the second half, Columbus outscored South Sioux 21-20.

The Discoverers hit just 15 of 38 shots, including eight 3-pointers, but Licari knows his team will improve in that area.

“We’re still better shooters than what we’ve shown,” he said.

Kennedy Jones and Bailey Keller both made two 3-pointers and scored eight points, tied with Regi Zakrzewski for the team lead.

Taryn Christensen led South Sioux with a game-high 15 points. The Discoverers were able to hold all-state point guard McKenna Sims to 14 points.

The Cardinals’ style of play matched what Columbus hopes to do this season, helping CHS run with South Sioux.

“We’re not real big, so we’re trying to take advantage of what we can and push the ball up the court,” Licari said. “The girls have really been battling on the defensive boards so we can push the ball.”

Zakrzewski also had a team-high six rebounds and five assists for Columbus (0-2), which plays next Saturday at Hastings.

The Tigers made the state tournament last season, so it’s another tough matchup for the Discoverers.

“Our schedule isn’t easy,” Licari said.