Once again, a slow start proved to be too much for Mountain Home to overcome, as the Lady Tigers lost to Jerome, 43-37, last Tuesday night in Lloyd Schiller Gymnasium.
Mountain Home turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and hit just two of nine shots from the field as they trailed 11-4 after a quarter. They got back to within four at the half, 17-13.
A basket by Marissa Streeter to start the third quarter brought the Lady Tigers to within two, 17-15, but Jerome turned Mountain Home turnovers into points and extended its lead to 31-23 heading into the fourth.
Down by eight, 35-27, midway through the fourth quarter, Mountain Home fought back, cutting the deficit to two, 35-33, on a basket by Selena Foster with 1:05 left in the game.
Aspen Grove sank two free throws to push the Jerome lead to four, 37-33, with 43 seconds left before another basket by Selena Foster made it 37-35, with 26 seconds left.
After two free throws by Jessica Praegitzer pushed the lead back to four, 39-35, with 22 seconds left, Jacci Cristobal canned two free throws to cut it back to two, 39-37, with 14.6 left.
Grove and Praegitzer both sank two more free throws to make it a 43-37 final. Jerome hit their final eight free throws to pull away for the win.
Mountain Home head coach Brent Keener thought it was a tough loss for his girls.
"Obviously, it wasn't the prettiest game in the first half, but I thought we competed better in the second half. They knocked down free throws late in the game, which made a difference. Defensively, we didn't do too bad, though second and third opportunities for them I thought killed us.
"They wanted it more than we did," Coach Keener said. "We've got to get that mental toughness and confidence in the game situation, because we practice a lot better than we play."
Selena Foster led Mountain Home's scoring with 12 points and eight rebounds. Mattie Bennett and Jacci Cristobal both scored seven points, Tessa Pachner added five, Marissa Streeter four and Madi Karst two.
Mountain Home shot 33 percent from the field, hitting two of 10 three-point shots. They went to the free-throw line just seven times, converting three, for 43 percent. Jerome hit 31 percent from the field, converting just two of 13 treys for 15 percent and hit 13 of 23 free throws.
It was a sweep for Jerome with the visiting team also winning the frosh-soph and junior varsity games.
Mountain Home opens conference action this week. They were at home against Columbia on Tuesday and travel to Nampa on Thursday before they visit Caldwell on Saturday. Coach Keener was thankful for a week between games to prepare for the conference openers.
"We've got some (more) time to prepare and get better at things and work on our defense and our shooting game," the coach said.