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Class 3A Region Basketball ELC ousts Spirit Lake in OT

Tendal scores 18 to lead Midgets to next round against No. 4 Algona

February 10, 2019
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

SPIRIT LAKE - After struggling to score against Spirit Lake's zone defense a little over two weeks ago, Estherville Lincoln Central's coaching staff came up with a different strategy for Saturday's Class 3A Regional game.

It worked for the Midgets, as they defeated the Indians 41-36 in overtime.

"We had a totally different game plan," said ELC coach Don Martindale. "We ran all set plays. We didn't shoot the ball real well in the first half, but I thought our defense was really as good as it's been all year. Everyone that played followed the game plan to a 'T.' I know we missed some free throws late, but we made the free throws when we needed to make them."

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The victory advances ELC to Wednesday's Class 3A Region 1 semifinal against Algona, a 70-39 victor over Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove. The Bulldogs (20-1) are ranked fourth in Class 3A.

ELC had lost the two regular season matches against Spirit Lake. The Indians won 46-42 on Dec. 7 and 41-25 on Jan. 24.

Saturday, neither the ELC nor Spirit Lake offense could do much in the first quarter. ELC's Kaitlyn Tendal and Josie Condon both scored on drives to the basket on the Midgets' first two possessions. ELC didn't score again in the period.

However, ELC's defense gave Spirit Lake fits and only a layup right at the buzzer tied the game at 4-4.

The pace picked up only slightly in the second quarter with the Indians taking a 13-11 lead at the break.

ELC finally picked up the pace in the third quarter. Kendall Evans opened with a corner 3-pointer and drives by Tendal and Condon helped ELC pull away to a 22-15 advantage. The Indians converted a three-point play to cut the deficit two four, but Tendal then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to push the lead back to seven, 25-18, to start the final period.

Spirit Lake kept fighting in the fourth quarter and took a lead with just under 2 minutes remaining on a pair of free throws by Karli Olsen.

However, another set play against the zone gave Tendal a clear path for another layup to tie the game at 32-32 with 1:19 remaining.

The Indians played for the final shot, but Evans forced a turnover at the buzzer.

Tendal scored the first basket of the extra period and ELC forced an Indian turnover on the defensive end. ELC worked the clock until Tendal was fouled and made a pair of free throws to push ELC's lead to four. Lindsey Jensen added two more free throws moments later and ELC led by six, 38-32.

While ELC missed some free throws down the stretch, Spirit Lake couldn't convert enough to overcome the deficit.

Tendal finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting and was 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Condon had eight points, Jensen had seven, Evans and Brianne Vermeys each had three and Amara Heinrichs had two. Jaydan Nitchals had three of the team's six steals.

"I thought Lindsey Jensen played the best game of her career," said Martindale. "I thought Kendall Evans and Jaydan Nitchals, defensively on the (Emma) Loveall girl and Jordyn Hamm, were just tremendous."

Wednesday's game

ELC played Algona in the second game of the season. In that game, the Midgets held a 34-33 lead entering the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs pulled away for a 52-43 victory. Algona is led by two junior guards-Abbey Holms and Aliyah Buscher. Holmes averages 16.7 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent (104-of-253) from the field, including 37 percent (65-of-175) from 3-point range. Buscher averages 12 points per contest while shooting 50.9 percent (81-of-159) from the field including 49.4 percent (41-of-83) from 3-point range. Both shoot over 80 percent from the free throw line. The Bulldogs shoot 71 percent from the free throw line as a team.

The winner of Wednesday's contest will play in the regional final against either Sioux Center or MOC-Floyd Valley at 7 p.m., Saturday. The site listed for that game is Estherville.



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