Rust was always a risk for a team coming off two weeks with hardly any game action.

It certainly took its toll, but it wasn’t enough to stall Regis on Friday night. The Ramblers overcame some struggles shooting the ball to defeat Thorp 50-37 and clinch the Western Cloverbelt Conference title for the fourth straight season.

Regis entered Friday with a two-game lead atop the conference standings with two games left to play. The victory ensured the Ramblers wouldn’t need to share the title with any other team.

“I think the biggest thing for this group is that they did it on their own. This was a new year, a new team, a new season,” Regis coach Patrick Boughton said. “They really felt like it was their turn, and they wanted to be the ones to step up and continue the run.”

The Cardinals, who entered the night near the bottom of the conference standings, put up a resilient challenge. Thorp stuck around and managed to cut the Ramblers’ lead to nine points on multiple occasions in the second half.

Both teams had trouble getting the ball through the hoop for spurts of time. Close-range shots fell too hard or too soft, and attempts from long range clanked off the rim during cold streaks for either side.

“Snow days definitely didn’t help with shooting,” said Ramblers forward Teryn Karlstad, who finished with a game-high 18 points. “(I didn’t feel like normal) until toward the end of the game. It was like there was a lid on the basket.”

After Regis opened the game with an 8-0 run, Thorp scored its first points nearly four minutes into the contest. The Cardinals righted the ship quickly, with eight unanswered points to tie things up.

But a 9-0 run midway through the half gave the Ramblers some breathing room, powered by a couple of strong finishes at the rim by Karlstad and stout defense at the other end of the floor. Regis (15-4, 12-1) scored 13 of the first half’s final 15 points.

“We talked a lot about really trying to strangle teams defensively, really focusing on the defensive side of things,” Boughton said. “If they can’t score, they’re going to have a hard time winning.”

Thorp battled back after falling behind by 18 early in the second half. The Cardinals embarked on an 11-2 run to cut the deficit to 38-29 with just under eight minutes remaining. Kaytlyn Stunkel’s aggressive play helped Thorp’s surge, with the sophomore getting to the free throw on multiple occasions and scoring five points in a stretch of about four minutes.

“They gave us a fight,” Boughton said of the Cardinals.

But Regis held Thorp at arm’s length the rest of the game, with the lead never shrinking smaller than nine. A couple of old-fashioned 3-point plays by Karlstad and Marne Milanowski were big in making that happen.

Milanowski finished with 12 points for Regis, while Mandi Van Brunt added 11. Stunkel led Thorp with 10 points.

With one game left on the Western Cloverbelt slate for most teams, Regis has an insurmountable two-game lead in the standings. The Ramblers’ win on Friday pushed their win streak to three, one shy of their conference title streak.

“It’s really great to have done it on each of my years up (on varsity),” Karlstad said. “To have an impact now really shows the progress that we’ve had.”

Friday was Thorp’s final game of the conference season. Next up for the Cardinals (3-16, 2-12) is a Cloverbelt crossover game next week against a yet to be determined opponent from the Eastern Cloverbelt.

The Ramblers close out their conference schedule at McDonell on Monday night.

Regis 50, Thorp 37

Thorp (3-16, 2-12): Danielle Stroinski 6, Cassidy Stroinski 6, Kaytlyn Stunkel 10, Ellie Windl 2, Madison Wicks 2, Hailey Zurakowski 7, Brittany Rosemeyer 2, Adalya Paskert 2.

Regis (15-4, 12-1): Makenna Rohrscheib 5, Morgan Rohrscheib 4, Teryn Karlstad 18, Mandi Van Brunt 11, Marne Milanowski 12.

3-pointers: Thorp 3 (C. Stroinski 2, D. Stroinski), Regis 5 (Milanowski 3, Ma. Rohrsheib, Van Brunt).

Halftime score: Regis 28-15.