It was an early battle of unbeaten teams when the Rapid City Stevens and Aberdeen Central girls' basketball teams squared off Saturday.
Only the Raiders left Carold Heier Gymnasium that way.
In a defensive battle, Stevens held off Aberdeen 37-33 to move to 8-0 on the season.
"We knew if we were prepared and could follow the game plan and focus on what we needed to take care of we had a good opportunity to win," Stevens coach Michael Brooks said. "I was really proud of the girls for following through that and making sure we were successful and playing the game we wanted to play, not worrying about the moment or what was going on."
The moment wasn't too big for Lexus Eagle Chasing, who paced the Raiders with 13 points including six in the game's final quarter.
"It feels really great, we came together as a team and we bonded," Eagle Chasing said. "We didn't want to lose against them. I was kind of locked in (during the fourth quarter) and trying to get everyone to play hard."
The Golden Eagles were not able to do enough down the stretch, unlike Friday night's game against Rapid City Central where the experience of Aberdeen helped it pull through.
Golden Eagles coach Dawn Seiler said her team is experienced enough to know it didn't play its best game against the Raiders.
"Areas of concern for me today was the rebounds. We didn't do a good job of rebounding and gave up too many offensive rebounds," she said. "They have a good, big, athletic team underneath and we just need to get a little bit tougher. You just can't give up that many more opportunities on the boards because those are the good looks."
Stevens won the rebounding battle 32-22, including 14 offensive rebounds to Aberdeen's four. Kyah Watson had 11 boards to lead the Raiders.
Stevens got out to a hot start in the first quarter, leading 13-6 at the first intermission. Aberdeen was able to hang around but Stevens outscored it 7-6 in the second and led 20-12 going into halftime.
Although the Raiders offense sputtered in the second quarter, their defense was able to keep the Golden Eagles from making a run.
"Our defense was key, it's the first thing we work on in practice. If you're going to ask anybody anything about us they're going to say we're a great defensive team," Brooks said. "That's what we want them to know. Whether we play in Nebraska, Iowa, Canada or Europe we want to still be able to bring that defensive intensity.
"There's only a couple of things you can control on the basketball court every single day, and that's your attitude and your defensive intensity."
In the third quarter Aberdeen made its run, outscoring Stevens 11-7 to trim the lead to 27-23 going into the final minutes.
The Raiders didn't blink, as the fourth quarter turned into Eagle Chasing and Paiton Burckhard of Aberdeen going back-and-forth offensively.
Burckhard finished with 22 points, but it wasn't enough to pass the Raiders on the scoreboard.
Brooks applauded the way his team handled the first close game it has experienced all season, especially against the Golden Eagle's 2-3 zone, but he also knows there are areas to improve in down the stretch.
"Obviously we need to hit some free throws in those big moments, we need to be able to extend that lead," he said. "For us, playing against the zone is the biggest challenge we're going to face, especially a long, athletic zone like they have. It was great for us to find those avenues to connect at those times. I loved how we responded to their age, it was great for us to respond that way."
Stevens was 9-of-18 from the free throw line.
The Aberdeen zone did its job on the shooting end, as the Raiders were just 2-of-12 ( 16.7 percent) from beyond the arch.
It was the 3-pointers Stevens didn't take that was the key to the victory, according to Brooks.
"For us, we've got to be in attack mode. I think the hardest part is not allowing yourself to take the easy stuff," Brooks said of playing against a zone. "You can get a three anytime versus a zone, and for us sometimes we settle for that because we know we can shoot. For us it becomes a thing that we rely on instead of attacking the rim."
Brooks pointed out that Eagle Chasing and Watson did a good job of taking the ball to the basket on not relying on the 3-pointer.
Eagle Chasing said she thought the focus of her team was where it needed to be considering the magnitude of the matchup.
"We try to lock in all the time," she said. "I don't want to lose and we're trying to keep that undefeated streak going."
Stevens takes on Sturgis (3-4) Friday on the road while Aberdeen (7-1) heads back east to host Brookings Tuesday.