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Living the dream!

Evans’ go-ahead 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining propels ELC to the state tournament after winning just two games a year ago

February 20, 2019
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

SIOUX RAPIDS - The Estherville Lincoln Central Girls Basketball Team is going to State!

That statement seemed far from the program's reality after winning just two games a year ago.

However, the 2018-19 squad did the improbable with a 45-44 overtime victory over Sioux Center on Saturday.

Kendall Evans 3-pointer with 9 seconds left in the extra period put ELC on top. Sioux Center's final shot was either deflected or simply missed rim right before the buzzer and ELC came out with the rebound to secure the victory.

Evans, who typically sets up in the corner for her 3-pointers, hadn't been able to connect from long range all night.

"When I got that last look at the end of the game, I knew I had to make it or our season would be done," said Evans. "I had been struggling, but I had to make it for my team and coaches. Coach (Don) Martindale said in that last timeout, 'If you're open in the corner, you have to shoot it and you have to shoot it with confidence.' I knew I could make it."

Fact Box

They said it

About the game

"We went out there and from the beginning we had confidence. We believed in every single kid on the team. If it weren't for the fans, parents and coaches, we wouldn't be here. We're finally here and it's amazing-I'm speechless."

-Brianne Vermeys

"I felt like defense won the game."

-Jaydan Nitchals

"It was crazy. It was so intense. It was probably the funnest game I've ever played with these girls."

-Sydney Swanson

"I think our shots weren't falling and that was hard. Mentally I think we're tough to enough to find a different way to get stops to get shots to fall and get to the rack and make the free throws."

-Josie Condon

About going to State

"I feel confident about going to state. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm sure our coaches will have a great game plan, because they got us to where we are right now. Every single time, they've had a great game plan to win these games."

-Brianne Vermeys

"Very excited. It will be exciting for the team and we've wanted this for a long time." -Jadynn Moore

"It's going to be fun. I'm excited."

-Jaydan Nitchals

"It feels so unreal-I've still have chills. Like we're going to be playing in front of all those people."

-Sydney Swanson

"I am beyond excited. Going from last year with two wins to this year going to state, I think we've improved so much and I just love all these guys and I think we've really worked for it."

-Kendall Evans

"Honestly I'm in shock. Coaching staff was a huge, huge part of this."

-Lindsey Jensen

"They (her teammates) ask me what it was like at state and I said, I don't know. Let's go down and figure it out together. I'm excited. I wouldn't want to do it with any other group of girls. We joke about we won two games last year and this feels like a dream come true that hard work really does pay off. I know after us five graduate, they'll continue to do that and continue to work hard and we'll be back to watch them."

-Josie Condon

"It's my freshman year-I'm really excited."

Kaitlyn Tendal

ELC had chances to win in regulation. The Midgets held a 36-32 lead with 42 seconds remaining after two free throws by Lindsey Jensen. However, ELC missed two of its next four free throws to open the door for the Warriors. Sioux Center's Dana Den Herder tied the game at 38-38 with a layup with about 5 seconds left in the game. The Warriors' defense didn't allow ELC to inbounds the ball immediately and the Midgets took a timeout with 1 second remaining. After the timeout, Josie Condon's heave at the buzzer missed.

Den Herder then hit a 3-pointer to open the extra period, but drives by Nitchals and Condon gave ELC a 42-41 lead. A three-point play put the hosts up 44-42.

ELC ended up playing for their last shot, which ended with Evans game-winner.

"We were in our same offense. Our game is 3-point shooting," said coach Martindale. "We didn't make many. Kendall hadn't made one all night. She's a mentally tough kid. She's played a lot of volleyball at a high level. I'm just so happy for her.

"I've been around this game along time and I tell you it's the most incredible week of basketball in my life," said Martindale. "We won just two games last year in my first year of taking on the program. I just feel sorry that somebody had to lose this game."

ELC started well on the night. In the first quarter, Kaitlyn Tendal and Condon both hit 3-pointers, as ELC jumped out to a 9-2 lead. But Sioux Center's pressure defense limited ELC's opportunities and the Warriors hit a couple shots to close the gap to 11-7.

In the second quarter, Condon hit her second 3-pointer of the game and Sydney Swanson finished off a fast break after a Tendal steal to put ELC ahead 16-10.

The Warriors again came back tying the game at 18-18 and 20-20 before Nitchals hit a 3-pointer before the end of the half giving ELC a 23-20 edge at the break.

Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter with Sioux Center taking its first lead at 24-23 and Tendal responding with her second 3-pointer of the night. However, the Warriors scored the final six points of the period to lead 30-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter featured more tough defense and both teams struggling to make shots, but Tendal's 3-pointer with 4 minutes left in regulation gave ELC a 32-30 lead, which the Midgets would hold onto until Den Herder's game-tying basket.

"I felt like I had to step up and I created shots for everyone else and they started hitting," Tendal said.

Condon led ELC with 15 points while Tendal had 12, Nitchals had five, Lindsey Jensen had three, and Brianne Vermeys, Jadynn Moore and Sydney Swanson each had two.

"I just want to thank the fans and the crowd and the coaches. Here were are, probably the No. 8 seed. But this is Cinderella at the ball," said Martindale.

ELC will play top-ranked and the 3A top seed in North Polk at 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 25 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.



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