Thursday’s game between the Sheridan Blackhawks and the Tipton Blue Devils was everything you’d expect from two teams that sit near the top of their respective conferences.

Back-and-forth scoring, players diving on the floor for every loose ball, animated coaches, a raucous crowd - in the end, the Blackhawks held on for a 54-48 win.

“I thought this game was a huge character builder for us,” said Sheridan head coach Jeff Guenther. “That’s a game that we lose at the beginning of the year - and probably lose it badly … we’re learning what it takes to win.”

Despite jumping out to a 10-8 lead after the first quarter, it felt as if Sheridan was on its heels for much of the first half. Audrey Reed, the Blackhawks’ leading scorer at 24.6 points per game, got into early foul trouble and had to spend most of the first half on the bench.

That forced Sheridan, Guenther said, to use more of his reserves tonight than in any game so far this season. And the Blackhawks responded. Each time Tipton made a basket, or went on a small 4-0 run, Sheridan answered with a big bucket of their own. Senior Emma Tomaszewski hit what turned out to be two crucial 3-pointers in the second quarter when the momentum had started to turn in the Blue Devils’ favor. The baskets were the only field goals Tomaszewski attempted in the game and helped the Blackhawks go into the locker room with a 27-22 advantage.

Tipton outscored Sheridan 11-9 in the third quarter, but Reed started to assert herself in the fourth with strong drives to the basket that ended in either  a layup or a trip to the foul line. Reed finished the game as the Blackhawks’ leading scorer with 16 points on 4-of-6 from the field. She also shot 8-of-13 at the charity stripe.

Sheridan shot 15-of-31 (48 percent) from the floor as a team, and made 19 of their 34 free-throw attempts. The Blackhawks also connected on 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Jillian O’Flaherty  finished second on Sheridan in scoring with eight points, and Izzy Mangin added seven.

Tipton’s Cassidy Crawford had a game-high 18 points in defeat.

Sheridan returns to action Jan. 9, when the Blackhawks travel to face the Kokomo Wildkats.