TWIN FALLS — For much of the opening half of the girls basketball game between Jerome and Twin Falls High School on Thursday, very little separated the two teams.
Each one went on its runs here and there, but nobody could quite create the separation necessary to build a cushion.
Then, the final stages of the second quarter changed all that.
A 10-0 Jerome run to finish the first half proved to be the difference, as the Tigers took a 12-point lead into the break and held on from there for a 41-31 win over their conference foe.
“Twin’s always tough,” Jerome head coach Jeremy Munroe said. “Coming here and playing Twin, it’s always tough...we just had to respond and answer back. We knew it would be a physical game and we responded well and fought back.”
The Bruins (3-5, 2-3) opened the game on a 5-0 run, thanks to a layup by junior Morgan Cargile and a 3-pointer from sophomore Paige Beem. However, Jerome (5-4, 4-2) responded with five straight points of its own, highlighting the punch-for-punch nature of the early stages of the contest.
The Tigers ended up taking a three-point lead into the second quarter, but Twin Falls pulled within two to make it 16-14 midway through that frame.
Then, Jerome found its groove.
Buckets from Vanessa Peiffer, Amaya Thomas, Makali Nance, a triple from Abriana Hurtado and an and-one converted by Mercedes Bell finished the half on that 10-0 run. Five different players, all juniors, chipped in to make it happen, as the Tigers outscored the Bruins 16-7 in the second quarter.
“That was nice,” Munroe said. “The girls held their composure. They battled, they fought, they did everything we asked them to do. It was big to get that run.”
The remainder of the contest seemed like Jerome was in control, as the Bruins continued to poke away at the lead, but nearly every Twin Falls basket was answered by the Tigers.
Jerome maintained a 12-point lead after three quarters, as each team put in nine points during the frame. Beem knocked down another 3-pointer, but Jerome answered right back with a quick 4-0 run.
Beem and sophomore Brinley Iverson answered with two straight buckets of their own, keeping the Tigers’ lead at 12 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Twin Falls managed to outscore Jerome 8-6 in the final period, but the Tigers did all they had to in order to ensure their lead was safe. Munroe was happy with the way Jerome held on down the stretch and never truly let Twin Falls back into the game, as the closest the Bruins got was within nine points.
“The girls fought hard [in the second half],” Munroe said. “They had their hands up, rebounded well...it was a good job.”
For Jerome, Junior Hannah Schvaneveldt led the way with 11 points, while Thomas chipped in 10 and added three assists. Hurtado and Bell did the bulk of the work on the boards, pulling down five each.
The Bruins were led by Beem, who poured in a game-high of 12 points on the night, thanks in part to her two 3-pointers.
The win gave the Tigers a bit of breathing room ahead of the Bruins in the 4A Great Basin Conference standings, which, despite the game coming in the early part of the season, could prove pivotal down the stretch.
Not only was it big for the standings, but it was big for the Jerome program, which earned its first win over the Bruins in quite some time, and was excited about it.
“It’s a good win,” Munroe said. “I think it’s the first time since 2010 that we’ve beat Twin. We think of it as a rivalry. It’s a big game. Any time we can get that win, we feel pretty good about it.”