HINTON -- It was a close game between the Hinton and Gehlen Catholic girls until the tail end of the third quarter.
The Blackhawks (8-1) went on a game-changing 8-0 run before the third-quarter buzzer and kept a step ahead of the Jays for the 56-43 win Thursday.
Hinton never trailed all night.
Gehlen (8-2) kept it a five-point game at the end of the first quarter, trailing 14-9 after tying it up at 7-7 earlier on.
"We got off to a good start, then Gehlen battled back at the end of the first quarter," Hinton coach Joel Small said.
Hinton's Lauren Hedlund and Sadie Shuck got into foul trouble early, and Small pulled them out toward the end of the first quarter, and they stayed on the bench through the second quarter.
Small said he had several younger players come off the bench and step up for the team, helping build a 10-point lead for the Blackhawks by halftime, making the score 28-18, Hinton.
"I'm really pleased with my bench for the way they played that second quarter," Small said.
In the third quarter, the Jays answered back, closing in on the Blackhawks to make it 34-30 with 2:18 to go in the quarter. Up to that point, they'd held Hinton to six points that quarter.
The Blackhawks weren't done yet, firing off a 8-0 finish before the third-quarter buzzer to make it 42-30 going into the final stanza.
Hinton's run was fueled by a pair of nearly back-to-back threes by Hedlund.
Gehlen couldn't catch up, trailing in the double digits most of the final quarter.
The Jays still had some fire in them -- outscoring Hinton 10-4 in the final minutes of the game. Gehlen's last-minute rally wasn't enough to close the gap, with the Blackhawks claiming the 13-point win.
Gehlen coach Marty Kurth said the Jays struggled on defense and boards against Hinton.
We just didn't get back on defense, that was the biggest thing. We never recuperated in transition. They beat us back down the floor for easy shots," he said. "You just can't give a team like Hinton easy buckets, and we did that tonight."
Hinton's Hedlund led scoring for the night with 19 points. The junior packaged up a double-double for the Blackhawks with 13 rebounds against Gehlen.
"Lauren did a nice job -- she played pretty solid for me even though she only played for three quarters," Small said. "I'd like to have her for all four quarters."
Shaeler Lund, also a junior, added 15 points for Hinton and junior Alex Yoerger was also in double digits with 10 points. She pulled down eight boards for the Blackhawks.
"Shaeler Lund and Yoerger were kind of my mainstays out there," Small said. "Lund played pretty good defense."
Hinton senior Breana Bollmeyer led in assists with six.
For Gehlen, junior Hannah Sitzmann led scoring with 15 points.
"She had a great floor game, took it to the hole and was very aggressive with it," Kurth said. "She did a great job as our point guard, did a lot of nice things."
Senior Katelin Langel added 12 points for the Jays and senior Emily Holtgrewe contributed nine.
Junior Alison Schnepf led in rebounds with eight for Gehlen.
"We played hard. We never gave it up. We got down early in the game also and fought back," Kurth said. "We did a lot of good things for the night."
Hinton hosts West Sioux Tuesday, then travels to Unity Christian Friday before heading to Le Mars for another matchup with Gehlen, this time on the Jays' home court.
Gehlen next matches up with Remsen St. Mary's on the road Tuesday and hosts Trinity Christian, Hull, on Friday, before the Jays' rematch with Hinton.
With the Blackhawks' win, Hinton's War Eagle Conference record improves to 5-1. Gehlen's WEC record dips to 4-2.
"It's a conference win, and we're happy about that," Small said. "The girls are playing hard and they want to win the conference championship."