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FIRTH â€” The Shelley Lady Russets built a ten point first quarter lead and then spent the remainder of the evening fending off a furious Firth Lady Cougar comeback attempt with a 37-34 road win in Firth on Tuesday evening.
Firth had cut the lead to just two points at 34-32 when Rachel Schiess found Bailey Nelson on the low block for a lay up to send the Firth faithful into a frenzy. Shelley's Nikki Nelson silenced the blue and sent the red crowd to their feet less than ten second later however as the senior coolly stroked a three point shot from the top of the arc, pushing the lead back out to seven at 37-32 with just over a minute remaining.
"You could tell that Firth had a little momentum and we were a little bit scattered at that point but that's the thing about Nikki, she does everything with confidence," Shelley head coach Burke Davis said. "She was open and had a good look. She never hesitated and shot the ball with confidence and that was probably the savior of the game for us."
Early on it looked as if the game was going to be a lopsided affair as the visiting Lady Russets rolled to an early lead and after a Brecklyn Hobbs bucket at the buzzer, Shelley led 15-5 after the opening quarter of play.
Defensive play tightened up in the second quarter as neither team were able to muster much offensive production and heading to the break Shelley led by eleven at 20-9.
"There was a lot of frustration in the first half," Firth head coach Sharla Cook said. "I really was proud of the effort in the second half though. It could have been very easy for them to give up when they were down like that but they didn't and were right in it at the end."
Out of the break Firth came out aggressively on the offensive end as they worked their way into the low blocks on numerous occasions which in addition to putting pressure on the Shelley defense, it also sent a parade of Lady Cougars to the free throw line for charity tosses as they outscored Shelley 25-11 in the second half of play.
"We were trying to be more assertive offensively in the second half because in the first half we were not," Coach Cook said. "I think that it showed up at the free throw line we just didn't convert as many as we needed to."
Indeed a 14 of 28 night at the charity stripe certainly didn't help the Firth cause and Shelley stepped through the door of opportunity as they made just enough of their shots down the stretch to pick up the victory.
"I thought that our girls played extremely hard. Firth matched us and in a game like this it's a lot of fun. I don't think that either team had much left in the tanks after this game," Coach Davis said. "It's definitely and early season game because both teams will be able to find things to improve on but I'm proud of my team, they were able to find a way to do those things which enabled them to hold on and savor a victory."
Firth had one last shot at tying the game but a Jacee Jensen three point try came up just short as time expired.
Statistically Sam Orme and Bailey Nelson led their respective teams in the books with 10 points apiece.
Shelley (1-1) will be back on the floor this afternoon when they head to Rigby for a 3 p.m. tip off in a game that was originally scheduled for last Friday.
Firth (2-1) will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and will return to action next Wednesday evening when they make the long bus ride to Driggs for a non-conference tilt with Teton.
SHELLEY 37, FIRTH 34
Shelley 15 5 6 11 - 37
Firth 5 4 13 12 - 34
Shelley (37) - Kimber Call 9, Holly Dooley 4, Nikki Nelson 7, Madi Ball 2, Sam Orme 10, Brecklyn Hobbs 5. FG: 16. 3-pointers 3 (Call 2, Nelson). FT: 2-4. Fouls: 22. Fouled out: none
Firth (34) - Brittana Spencer 5, Kayla Jensen 6, Bailey Nelson 10, Jacee Jensen 2, Britton Bean 7, Rachel Schiess 2, Shlby Pfeifer 2. FG: 10. 3-pointers: none. FT: 14-28. Fouls: 9. Fouled out: none.