HUXLEY - The Ballard girls showed great fight in the face of adversity versus Gilbert in their season opener Friday, but the Bombers couldn’t finish the job in a 54-48 overtime loss at Huxley.

Ballard was in control for most of the game, but Gilbert clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter to take charge. It appeared the Tigers were in firm control, up five with less than 1 ½ minutes to go, but the clutch shooting of Abby Catus and Maggie Larson forced the game into overtime.

The extra session wasn’t kind to Ballard. The Bombers only scored two points and Gilbert ended overtime on an 8-0 run to claim the victory.

“We didn’t get beat because we didn’t play hard,” Ballard head girls’ basketball coach Kelly Anderson said. “We got beat because we didn’t play smart.”

The Bombers saw a 31-26 lead evaporate in the fourth quarter as the Tigers pushed in front, 45-40, behind big baskets from Nessa Johnson and Kenzie Miller. But with 1:15 to go, Catus gave Ballard hope by draining a 3-pointer to pull her team within two.

Johnson hit 1 of 2 free throws with 22 seconds left to increase Gilbert’s lead to 46-43. The two teams then missed the front end of one-and-ones at the line, with Ballard getting possession with 16 seconds left.

The Bombers got the ball down court, but struggled to find an open shot. Then just before time ran out, Larson got the ball on the right wing from about 25 feet out and heaved up a shot that went through the net as time expired, forcing overtime.

“I said, OK, this is nice, we’re going into overtime, but we haven’t won anything yet,” Anderson said. “It’s great to get to that point, but if you don’t close it out, it doesn’t feel real good.”

A long shot from just inside the arc from Tara Sanders gave Ballard a 48-46 lead early in overtime. But the Bombers didn’t score again.

Sarah Hinners hit two free throws to tie the game and then Johnson scored four consecutive points. Jordyn Milhous iced the game for Gilbert by hitting a pair of free throws with three seconds left.

In the end, Ballard was hurt by 8 of 19 shooting from the line and 20 Gilbert offensive rebounds that helped the Tigers hold a huge 56-39 rebounding advantage. The Bombers also committed 27 fouls, sending Gilbert to the line 30 times.

“We just can’t have that many people fouling out of a game and put them at the line as many times as we did,” Anderson said. “Giving up offensive rebounds and missing free throws — that’s the difference in the game.”

Sanders finished with 11 points, three rebounds and two assists. Catus tallied eight points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal and Larson six points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal.

Molly Ihle chipped in three points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Charity Ransom put up four points, three assists, two rebounds and one steal; Vier four points and rebounds apiece plus three steals and two assists and Sydni Thrailkill four points and rebounds apiece.

Ballard had 10 different players score. Getting several players experience early could pay off big for the Bombers later in the season.

“We’ve got a lot of people in the mix and we’re going back and forth with that,” Anderson said. “Once we get it figured out we’ll be fine, but that might take a little while.”

Johnson led Gilbert with 15 points and two blocks. Hinners scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Miller hit four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points.

Gilbert 54, Ballard 48 (OT)

G 6 15 14 11 8 - 54

B 9 14 13 10 2 - 48

Gilbert (54) - Nessa Johnson 6-8 3-9 15, Sarah Hinners 3-11 8-11 14, Kenzie Miller 4-14 0-0 12, Jordyn Milhous 1-3 2-2 5, Hailey Anthony 1-1 1-2 3, Thea Rotto 1-6 1-6 3, Emma Bulman 1-9 0-0 2, Hannah Thatcher 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-45 15-30 54. 3-point field goals (5): Miller 4, Milhous. Rebounds (56): Hinners 12. Assists (8): Rotto 2. Steals (5): Rotto 3. Blocks (4): Johnson 2, Bulman 2. Fouls: 18.

Ballard (48) - Tara Sanders 4-8 2-4 11, Abby Catus 3-5 0-1 8, Maggie Larson 2-12 1-3 6, Ana Vier 2-4 0-2 4, Sydni Thrailkill 1-11 1-2 4, Charity Ransom 2-8 0-0 4, Molly Ihle 1-6 1-3 3, Karlee Ahrenholtz 0-2 3-4 3, Summer McVicker 1-2 0-0 3, Josie Fleischmann 1-4 0-0 2, Rachel Wohlgemuth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-61 8-19 48. 3-point field goals (6): Catus 2, Sanders, larson, Thrailkill, McVicker. Rebounds (39): Larson 9. Assists (15): Ransom 3, Ihle 3. Steals (13): Ihle 4. Blocks: None. Fouls: 27. Fouled out: Vier, Ihle, Ahrenholtz.