The Trinity Lutheran High School girls basketball team dropped a home game 44-40 against Southwestern (Shelby) on Saturday evening at the Bollinger Athletic Complex.

Both teams got off to a slow start, but the Cougars struck first on a basket by Piper Acton with 4:50 left in the first quarter. That, however, would be the only points of the first quarter for the Cougars.

The Spartans used a 3-point basket and pair of free throws from Megan Benson and a free throw by Emmy Wendling to pull in front 6-2 at the end of the first quarter.

That first quarter is when the Cougars blew an opportunity to set the pace for the game, coach Mike Lang said.

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“They battled hard throughout the game and stepped up defensively, we just didn’t make enough stops down the stretch,” he said.

The Cougars woke up in the second quarter and quickly made it a one-point game with free throws from Abby Hackman and Jodi Goecker in the first minute, bringing the score to 6-5 in favor of the Spartans.

The Spartans answered back with a layup by Madison Van Gorden. She also was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to the Spartans in front 9-5. The Cougars answered with a run of their own that include a free throw from Goecker and two layups — with one being a three point-play — by Hackman to go in front 11-9. The Spartans answered with a layup by Logan DeArmitt to tie the game at 11.

Morgan Gabbard hit a three-pointer and Goecker hit another free throw to push the Cougars back in front 15-11. The Spartans then outscored the Cougars 7-0 run to lead 18-15. Gabbard hit another three to tie the game.

Both teams recorded two points in the final minute with Van Gorden hitting a layup and Goecker nailing a couple of free throws to tie the game at 20 at the half.

The Cougars finished with 23 turnovers in the first half and the Spartans had 14.

Hackman, who led the Cougars with seven at the half, hit a jumper on the first play of the second half to give the Cougars the lead at 22-20. The Spartans answered back with a layup by Annie Coy.

Gabbard hit another three for the Cougars and the Spartans’ Emmy Wendling made a layup to bring the score to 25-24 in favor of the Cougars. Hackman then recorded an old-fashioned 3-point play after bit hitting a basket and nailing the ensuing free throw.

The Spartans then went on an 8-0 run to end the third quarter with a 32-28 lead.

Both teams battle back-and-forth on the first few possessions in the fourth quarter before the Spartans took a 38-34 lead. The Cougars’ Goecker hit another free throw to bring the score to 38-35. That was as close as it would get as the Spartans kept the Cougars at bay for the remainder of the contest.

The Cougars finished with 21 turnovers in the game.

Lang said his squad just needs to simply stick with fundamentals to help curb that number.

“We have to understand the game better,” he said.

He said he is proud of how his team has been playing.

“I’m proud of them, they kept playing hard the entire time and they battle and again this is another loss by four points and we’re not getting blown out. We have to keep aggressive, but when we play six kids, everyone becomes exhausted.”

The Cougars are 1-6 on the season and will face Providence on Saturday.

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Jordan Richart is a correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.