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SchmienkCCBig bucket — Carlyle guard Lera Schmienk connects on a big three-pointer in the late minutes of the fourth quarter in their loss to top-ranked Central on Thursday. Schmienk had 10 points for Carlyle in the loss. PHOTO BY JEREMY CHAWGO    The much anticipated matchup between top-ranked Central and undefeated Carlyle in girls basketball action did not disappoint on Thursday night in a packed Harriss Gymnasium.
    The Cougars outlasted a fast start from the Lady Indians in front of a great home crowd where Central escaped with a 40-38 win.
    Carlyle could not have scripted a better start with two Central turnovers resulting in a deuce from Lera Schmienk and a three-pointer from Sophia Hoffmann for a 5-0 lead and a Nathan Rueter timeout.
    Things went south from there for the Indians as Central caught fire from sparks off the bench from Ella Nettemeier and Lexy Santel.
    Claire Albers got the Cougars on the board with their first bucket two minutes in which ignited a 15-0 run the rest of the way.
    “That game seemed to have a little bit of everything,” said Central head coach Nathan Rueter. “We were fortunate to come out on top. It was a good game with a great environment. I’m happy for our kids, SchroederCCTransition deuce — Central senior guard Kaydence Schroeder puts in an easy bucket in the first half of the Lady Cougars’ 40-38 win at Carlyle on Thursday. Schroeder had two points and four rebounds in the victory. PHOTO BY JEREMY CHAWGOI just wish we would have played a little cleaner. But at the end of the day, we got a win against a very good basketball team on their home court.”
    Cece Toennies and Nettemeier each hit short-range jumpers before sophomore Taylor Trame hit a three-pointer from the baseline. Santel followed with two jumpers while senior Kaydence Schroeder added a transition bucket as Central led 15-5 after eight minutes of play.
    “That five stayed strong on the scoreboard there,” said first-year head coach Cindy Hoffmann. “But give our girls credit, we battled back all night long against a great team and a great basketball program.”
    Santel struck again with a three-pointer in the opening 10 seconds of the second quarter with Central leading 18-5.
    Carlyle showed their grit by battling back over the final 24 minutes of play.
    “We had several sloppy turnovers that kept them in the game,” added Rueter. “Some things just didn’t go our way in that second half.”
    Schmienk hit a driving bucket for Carlyle before Santel hit another three-pointer for their biggest lead at 21-7 with seven minutes left in the half.

    Carlyle scored 11 of the final 18 points of the quarter with Hoffmann hitting two buckets along with a big three-pointer from Jacie Persing from the top of the key.
    Carlyle senior Emma Meyer also hit two free throws down the stretch as the Lady Indians closed the gap to 28-18 at the half.
    Santel led all players with 10 points at the break for the Cougars who were 12-of-20 from the field with six turnovers.
    “Lexy hit some big shots and Ella provided a big spark,” added Rueter. “That’s one of the big things about our team is the depth and balance we have and it showed tonight with everyone hitting a big shot or two.”
    Hoffmann led the Indians with seven points as Carlyle was 7-of-17 from the field and turned it over eight times.
    “We haven’t shot the ball real well yet this season,” added Cindy Hoffmann. “We have the ability, we just have to put it all together. But I can’t fault our effort tonight. We had our chances.”
    The Central offense struggled the rest of the evening with a ball-control effort that saw them turn the ball over five times in the third quarter and two more times in the final quarter.
    Meanwhile, Carlyle chipped away with timely shooting. Meyer had a strong third quarter with five points on a jumper and 3-of-5 from the line. Schmienk added another bucket for the Indians while Santel had the only bucket of the frame for Central who led 30-25 entering the final eight of regulation.
    Trame struck first in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from the elbow in front of single charity shots from Schmienk and Persing as they got within 33-29 after a drive from Hoffmann with 5:30 on the clock.
    Central junior Kylie Rakers hit an eight-foot baseline jumper for the Cougars. Meyer hit a short bucket in front of a baseline triple from Schmienk which got the contest to 35-34 in favor of the Cougars with 3:20 to play.
    “That was a big shot from Lera,” added Hoffmann. “Unfortunately someone gets a win and someone walks away with a learning experience.”
    Toennies converted a conventional three-point play on a drive to the rim before Hoffmann got it back to a one-point deficit after a long three-pointer from the top of the key as they trailed 38-37 with 50 seconds left.
    Central had a chance to ice the win but turned the ball over before Carlyle missed a chance to take the lead on the other end with a missed three-pointer which was rebounded by Toennies.
    Toennies was fouled on the play and made both free throws for a 40-37 lead with 5.1 seconds left.
    Carlyle inbounded the ball two plays later in front of their own bench where Hoffmann was fouled attempting a last second three-pointer.
    The junior missed the first free throw before making the second and missing the third intentionally. Hoffmann was allegedly called for a lane violation that ended the contest in favor of the Cougars.
    Santel paced the Cougars with a dozen points off the bench where she was 5-of-7 from the field. Trame scored nine points and Toennies hit for seven points.
    Central was 16-of-30 from the field including 5-of-11 from the arc. They were 3-of-7 from the line and turned it over 13 times. The Cougars’ bench outscored the Lady Indians’ bench 18-4 in the win.
    Carlyle got a baker’s dozen from Hoffmann on 5-of-14 shooting. Schmienk added 10 points while Meyer ended with nine points despite battling foul trouble throughout.
    Carlyle was 13-of-34 from the field including 4-of-9 from three. They were 8-of-14 from the line with 11 turnovers.
    The Lady Cougars are next in action on Wednesday at the Mascoutah Invitational where they will play the winner of East St. Louis and Mascoutah at 6 p.m.
    The Lady Indians will participate in the Waterloo Holiday Tournament with games against Red Bud on Tuesday, Gibault on Wednesday and Roxana on Thursday.
    Central is currently 11-1 on the season and ranked number one according to the Associated Press, and Carlyle is now 10-1 on the season and also ranked in the Associated Press.