BLANCHARD — Blanchard battled Little Axe and homecoming Friday night.

Playing “a little tight,” the Lions held off the Indians 40-29. Defense and free-throw shooting, especially in the final period, were the difference for Blanchard.

“We didn’t seem to play with the same looseness that we usually do,” said coach Jeff Zinn. “You know, it’s homecoming. That’s generally not the best game we play during the season.”

Emily Grider scored a game-high 14 points, while Colby Hart added 13 to help Blanchard improve to 3-1. Little Axe fell to 2-3.

The Lions struggled from the field, hitting just 10-of-37 shots, while committing 19 turnovers.

But even while the offense wasn’t there, the defense was. Blanchard’s poor shooting was nearly matched by the Indians, who hit 11-of-33. The Lions helped to cause and were the recipient of 27 Little Axe turnovers.

But the defense was especially good on Christina Bread. The Indian’s best player, she scored a team-high 13 points, but was limited to just seven in the second half and four in the final period.

“She really hurt us last year,” Zinn said. “Our guards did a great job of staying with her and when she posted up, we had pretty good ball pressure on the inside.”

Little Axe led 20-18 at the half and 24-22 with 4:39 left in the third quarter. A bucket by Hart gave the Lions a four-point lead, then two free-throws by Stephanie Kiker made it 28-22 to start the final quarter.

Little Axe went 0-for-5 from the field in the final 4 minutes of the third period and committed four turnovers. In the fourth, the Indians hit just 2-of-8 shots and scored seven points, while Blanchard made a living at the foul line, hitting 9-of-13.

Blair Brooks scored all five of her points from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, hitting 5-of-8.

“We’ll take the three wins, but I think we’re capable of being a better basketball team,” Zinn said. “We had high expectations coming into the season, so we expect big things.”

Scott Moore366-3535sports@normantranscript.com

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