There was a thud as Isabel Robben hit the floor.
The sophomore on the Hays High School girls’ basketball team got up a bit slowly, trying to get her eye cleared from the wallop.
The contact and knock to the ground wasn’t about to force her out of the game Tuesday night against Salina South.
“She kind of hit me on the top of the forehead and slid down my eye,” Robben said. “I was like, ‘I’m good. I’m good. I want to stay in. Let’s go.’ ”
That came in the third quarter, and what Robben did next was something similar to a prize fighter getting off the canvas and delivering a knockout blow of her own.
The sophomore finished with 15 points — including eight in the third quarter — to help Hays High knock off the Cougars, 55-50, at the HHS gym.
More importantly, Robben showed the toughness the team needed to help snap a four-game losing streak after the Indians started the year 8-1.
“I haven’t been stepping up as much as I could have the past few games,” Robben said. “Then these past two games, I’ve gotten tons of chances and great passes. I’ve been where I needed to at the right time on defense. I can’t do it without the passes, but it’s been fun.”
The 15-point outing came after she scored a career-high 20 points and took an unworldly seven charges in a loss Saturday against Shawnee Mission-South in the McPherson tourney — where the Indians went 0-3.
“The seven charges in the game last Saturday, that might be a world record,” said HHS coach Kirk Maska. “Then she had at least two tonight. … If everybody plays with the energy she has — and we saw it early tonight — it probably would have been a different story by halftime.”
The first half was similar to the last several in the string of four losses, though. The Indians just couldn’t distance themselves from the Cougars, leading 12-9 after the first quarter before trailing 23-22 at halftime.
Salina South (4-9) pushed the lead to 31-25 before sophomore Tasiah Nunnery hit two free throws, only to see the Cougars answer with one of two free throws at the other end.
Then Robben went on a tear, sinking a 3-pointer, followed by a layup to pull HHS (9-5) even with the visitors.
“I was just one of the players out there,” Robben said. “Every one of the players could have been doing what I was doing if they were out there. It’s all of us out there. I can’t do it on my own.”
After Salina South scored, Robben got a steal and a layup while being fouled — then converted the free throw. She scored all eight of the Indians’ points in the final 4:31 of the quarter as Hays High trailed 36-35 entering the final period.
“She’s been on for a few games, and it’s just good seeing someone step up other than our leading scorers to help,” said Nunnery, who finished with 12 points.
The Cougars would hold a narrow advantage until the two teams battled to a 44-all tie.
Then the Hays High team that had rattled off a string of six-straight wins, showed back up.
Nunnery hit two free throws and converted a layup to start a 7-0 spurt in a span of only 25 seconds to give Hays High a 51-46 lead with only 46.9 seconds remaining.
“It was the difference. We needed that a lot,” Robben said. “We need things like that to push us. We need little things like that. We need charges. We need blocked shots. We need everything that’s going to push us to be better.”
“It was good. I knew we could get a run on them if we out-worked them,” Nunnery said. “We just tried to do that the best we could.”
The Cougars would come no closer than five points the rest of the game.
“Not only that, you could see the energy level rise and the confidence level rise,” Maska said. “When it got to that little spurt, I thought there was no way they were going to beat us now.”
The coach said the victory was important not only to snap the losing streak, but also before returning to Western Athletic Conference play Friday at Dodge City. Hays High is 3-0 in conference play so far this season.
“Of all things I thought, losing our confidence wasn’t one of them,” Maska said. “We really didn’t play with much confidence. I guess good teams find a way to win, and hopefully we’re a good team. We found what we needed to find at the end of the game. People that weren’t shooting because they didn’t think they could score started shooting again and hit some big shots for us and free throws down the stretch. It was a good win for us, and we needed it.”