HASTINGS — Scotus Central Catholic battled back from a second-half deficit to push Hastings St. Cecilia to the wire in Thursday night’s season opener.

The Shamrocks, a preseason ratings contender in Class C-1, trailed by 11 points in the third quarter on the Bluehawks’ home court before fighting back to tie the game in the fourth.

But it was St. Cecilia, ranked No. 2 in Class C-2, that pulled out the 43-42 victory behind a game-high 18 points from Lexi Vertin.

“We showed a lot of grit,” said Scotus head coach Jarrod Ridder, whose team fell behind 21-18 at halftime and 34-26 after three quarters before mounting the comeback with 16 points in the final period.

The Shamrocks had the game tied at 41-all before St. Cecilia got a putback off a missed free throw.

After a Shania Borchers' free throw cut the deficit to one and St. Cecilia failed to convert on the front end of a one-and-one, Scotus had one final attempt to pull out the road victory but a 3-point attempt missed as time expired.

Bailey Lehr got off to a fast start for Scotus, scoring eight of her team-leading 11 points in the first quarter. Grace Odbert added 10 points for the Shamrocks and Grace Wickham scored eight, including the team’s only 3-pointer.

Borchers scored four of her six points from the free-throw line as the Shamrocks made 24 trips to the charity stripe, connecting on 15 attempts.

St. Cecilia shot just eight free throws, making three of them.

“We did a nice job defensively,” Ridder said.

The difference in the game came from behind the 3-point line, where the Bluehawks knocked down eight shots.

Vertin, who had 10 points by halftime, hit three 3-pointers and teammate Kameron Kissinger connected on three more on her way to 11 points. Makenna Asher added nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, for St. Cecilia.

Scotus hosts Guardian Angels Central Catholic on Tuesday.

“We need to continue to work hard in practice and play with energy and enthusiasm,” Ridder said.

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