HUXLEY - Ballard received an early wakeup call in its game against Gilbert to open the girls’ basketball season Friday.


The Bombers were held scoreless over the final five minutes, falling 52-45 in a battle of ranked Class 4A teams.


A three-point play by Cassidy Thompson gave No. 4 Ballard a seven point lead over the seventh-ranked Tigers with 4:37 left in the third quarter. Ava Hawthorne, Gilbert’s leading scorer to that point, picked up her fourth foul and was forced to go to the bench.


But then Emma Bulman and Thea Rotto converted back-to-back three-point plays to get Gilbert back in the game.


The two teams went back and forth for a bit, with Gilbert taking a brief lead early in the fourth quarter. Josie Fleischmann regained the lead for Ballard after hitting a 3-pointer, but Bulman answered for Gilbert.


She drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:48 remaining to put the Tigers up 47-45.


That basket gave Gilbert the lead for good. The Tigers were fantastic defensively down the stretch, keeping Ballard off the board the rest of the way to close out the game.


“They were tougher than we were tonight,” Ballard head coach Kelly Anderson said. “They just physically outplayed us. Give them all the credit. Until we learn to get mentally tougher that’s where we’re going to be.”


Gilbert held Ballard to 33-percent shooting from the field on Friday. The Tigers also had a 37-29 rebounding advantage and made 17 of 26 free throws compared to the Bombers’ 12 of 23 effort.


That helped Gilbert overcome 20 turnovers that were due in large part to Ballard’s tremendous pressure defense and ability to get in the passing lanes.


“It hurts when you get beat on the boards and you get beat on the free throw line and miss point-blank shots like we did,” Anderson said. “Especially in the fourth quarter.”


Molly Ihle fought through foul trouble to put up 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals and Brooke Loewe also scored 11 points for Ballard in a losing effort.


Fleischmann tacked on nine points, Thompson seven points, five rebounds and four blocks and Maggie Larson four rebounds and two assists.


“Hopefully our girls come back and decide to get after it,” Anderson said. “It’s a long season - we can still do some good things.”


Bulman scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for Gilbert. Hawthorne, Thea Rotto and Katie Currans netted nine points apiece, with Hawthorne adding five rebounds and four assists and Rotto 10 rebounds and two blocks, and freshman guard Sydney Lynch chipped in five points.


Gilbert 52, Ballard 45


G 19 6 14 13 - 52


B 15 13 11 6 - 45


Gilbert (52) - Emma Bulman 3-7 4-5 11, Katie Currans 3-4 0-1 9, Ava Hawthorne 0-2 9-12 9, Thea Rotto 3-6 3-5 9, Sydney Lynch 2-5 0-0 5, Ellie Bulman 2-2 0-1 6, Nessa Johnson 1-4 1-2 3, Emma Kruse 0-0 0-0 0, Claire Roske 0-3 0-1 0, Johnna Rotto 0-0 0-0 0, Jordyn Milhous 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 14-33 17-27 52. 3-point field goals (7): Currans 3, El. Bulman 2, Lynch, Em. Bluman. Rebounds (37): Em. Bulman 10, Rotto 10. Assists (12): Hawthorne 4. Steals (11): Hawthorne 3. Blocks (3): Rotto 2. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: Johnson.


Ballard (45) - Molly Ihle 3-10 4-5 11, Brooke Loewe 3-9 2-3 11, Josie Fleischman 3-4 0-0 9, Cassidy Thompson 2-5 3-7 7, Rachel Wohlgemuth 1-4 1-1 3, Maggie Larson 0-3 2-5 2, Meg Rietz 1-3 0-0 2, Grace Hill 0-0 0-0 0, Kylie Rigby 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Briggs 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 13-39 12-23 45. 3-point field goals (7): Loewe 3, Fleischmann 3, Ihle. Rebounds (29): Ihle 7. Assists (12): Ihle 6. Steals (14): Ihle 6. Blocks (4): Thompson 4. Fouls: 23. Fouled out: Fleischmann.