Such was the case for the Le Mars Community girls basketball team, who played nine scoreless minutes to start Wednesday's Class 3A regional quarterfinal loss to third-ranked Bishop Heelan.
The host Crusaders led 30-0 early in the second quarter before the Lady 'Dogs erased the shutout, but the deficit was too much for Le Mars to overcome as it dropped an 83-40 decision to end its season.
"We didn't come out and play our game and you can't dig yourself in a hole against a team like that."
The Lady 'Dogs nearly matched the Crusaders point-for-point in the second quarter as Heelan edged Le Mars 18-16 in the eight-minute frame, but the 28-0 first quarter spread was enough to give the Crusaders a 46-16 halftime advantage.
Heelan outscored Le Mars 20-10 in the third quarter to take a 66-26 lead into the final eight minutes, where the Crusaders held a 17-14 advantage to seal up the win.
"Heelan is a very good team and they showed that tonight," Kopperud said. "Once we settled down and settled in a little bit, we made some things happen. But you can't dig yourselves in a hole against a team like that."
Meredith Rand paced Le Mars (9-13) with 13 points on the night. She was the only Lady Bulldog to score in double figures, although nine different Le Mars players scored in the loss.
Heelan senior Madison Yohe paced the Crusaders (21-1) with a game-high 21 points, 16 of which she scored in the first half. Megan McCarthy and Jenna Bork each came off the bench to score 13 points apiece for Heelan, which will host Carroll (14-8) on Saturday night in the semifinal round. Carroll posted a 50-26 win over Storm Lake on Wednesday to advance.
Emily Pick, Molly Renken and Ashley Phelan each scored six points for Le Mars while Renken hauled in four rebounds and Ellefson collected three steals. Carolyn Ahlers handed out four assists while Pick and Phelan each gave out three assists.
The Lady 'Dogs picked up 10 fouls in the first quarter and as a result, Heelan shot 31 free throws on the night, sinking 23 of them. Le Mars was 11-for-18 from the foul line.
Le Mars will graduate four seniors from its 2011-12 squad: Jess Arnold, Jenni Theisen, Tracy Schiefen and Catie Meis.
"We've got four great seniors that we're going to definitely miss," Kopperud said. "They've dedicated a lot of time, energy and effort to our program. We appreciate that and we're definitely going to miss them down the road."
But the second-year head coach sees promise for the future as eight talented juniors, including four starters, will return next season.
"We've got a lot of numbers and we're building in the right direction," Kopperud said of his program. "That starts with a good group of juniors that will be back as seniors and then an outstanding group of underclassmen with solid numbers.
"We'll continue to work and get ready for next year."