DES MOINES - Playing in their third straight state tournament, Class 3A No. 3 Estherville Lincoln Central simply took care of busy in beating rival Sprit lake for the third time this season.
The Midgets led from start to finish in the 55-39 victory on Tuesday and looked very comfortable in doing it.
ELC defeated Spirit Lake twice during the regular season-the first time on Dec. 21 when the Indians were without leading scorer KJ Veldman and ELC won 70-36. Veldman was back for the rematch, but the Midgets won that 51-36.
Estherville Lincoln Central’s Macy Dahl stuck her defensive assignment of guarding Spirit Lake’s leading scorer KJ Veldman throughout Tuesday’s Class 3A Quarterfinal game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Photos by StevePope.com
"The girls have been down here two years in a row, they're playing a familiar opponent and they're not in awe of the arena," said ELC coach Tony Klein after his first victory in the state tournament. "It's just a basketball game on a different court."
ELC advances to the Thursday's 5 p.m. semifinal game against second-ranked MOC-Floyd Valley. The Dutch also won their first-round game easily, defeating 13th-ranked Mid-Prairie 51-30. The top four teams in Class 3A all won Tuesday as top-ranked Davenport Assumption cruised to a 71-25 win over Red Oak and fourth-ranked Cascade shut down fifth-ranked Bondurant-Farrar for the final three quarters in a 33-26 win in the other starter quarterfinal games games.
Against Spirit Lake, ELC's Casey Sievert and Allie Sievert both helped the Midgets get off to a quick start.
Allie scored the first five points of the game, but ELC led just 7-5 after the Indian's Alissa Christoffer connected on a 3-pointer.
Sara Heywood answered with a 3-pointer of her own to start an 8-1 ELC run that ended on a 3-pointe by Casey Sievert for a 15-6 lead with 1:32 left in the first quarter.
"I think we were ready to play," said ELC senior Emily Kirchner. "Usually we want to get the ball inside and then reverse it, but our outside shooters were hot, so we just kept feeding them."
Meanwhile Veldman finally scored her first basket, a trey, late in the first period to make the score 15-9 after one quarter.
ELC opened up the second quarter with a 13-1 run that threatened to put Spirit Lake away. The run included two 3-pointers by Casey Sievert, one by Macy Dahl and two points each from Heywood and Emily Kirchner.
Spirit Lake bounced back with a 10-1 run that included 3-pointers by Christoffer and Emma Dau and four points from Veldman to cut the halftime deficit to 29-20.
While ELC was 5-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half, most of the damage in the second half came from the inside. The Midgets out-scored the Indians 18-7 in the quarter with both Sieverts scoring five points in the period and Heywood with four.
Spirit Lake never threatened in the final frame.
Casey Sievert finished with a game-high 18 points including 6-of-11 from the field (3-of-4 from 3-point range) and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
Allie Sievert finished with 13 points and six rebounds while Heywood had 12 points, four assists and four steals.
Kirchner had a quiet scoring night with six points, but she had a team-high nine rebounds. Dahl finished with three points, three steals and three blocked shots while guarding Veldman most of the night.
"Veldman had 14 points and one of those was three off an offensive rebound and one was a hook shot, but for her to be only to the line two times, that's just great defense," said Klein. "The first time against us (this year), she got to the line nine times."
Christoffer led Spirit Lake with 16 points, which included 7-of-10 from the free-throw line and 3-of-8 from 3-point range.
Spirit Lake ends the season with a 16-9 record. Of those nine losses, four of them came when Veldman was out of the lineup with an injury. Class 2A top-ranked Western Christian and ELC accounted for the other five losses.
ELC (22-3) lost to MOC-Floyd Valley in the second game of the season. The Midgets look forward to Thursday's rematch.
"They run a defense that we haven't played all year- a 1-1-3 zone," said Klein. "They trap a little bit out of and funnel you to (Alexis) Conaway."
Conaway, a 6-foot forward, has verbally committed to playing volleyball at Iowa State. She averages 18.3 points and 7.56 rebounds per game. She is one of three returning starters on a team whose only loss is to defending Class 2A State champion Western Christian, 51-46.
The Dutch are trying set up a rematch with Assumption, who they lost to in the Class 3A state final a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Midgets are trying to get back to the state final after losing the Class 2A title game to Odeboldt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove two years ago.
SPIRIT LAKE (39)-Christoffer 3-10 7-10 16, K. Veldman 5-17 2-2 14, Horsman 0-1 0-0 0, Stokke 1-6 0-0 2, Dau 1-4 2-2 5, J. Veldman 0-4 0-0 0, Newman 0-0 0-0 0, Brevik 1-1 0-0 2, Hassel 0-0 0-0 0, Loveall 0-1 0-2 0, Kabele 0-1 0-0 0, Ites 0-0 0-1 0, Duncan 0-0 0-0 0, Thate 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-45 11-17.
ESTHERVILLE LINCOLN?CENTRAL?(55)-Dahl 1-4 0-0 3, Heywood 5-10 1-3 12, Kirchner 1-3 4-6 6, C. Sievert 6-11 3-3 18, A. Sievert 3-7 7-9 13, McCauley 1-5 0-0 2, Jensen 0-1 0-0 0, Gjerde 0-1 0-0 0, Bates 0-0 0-0 0, Humble 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton 0-0 1-2 1, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-42 16-23.
3-point goals-Spirit Lake 6-19 (Christoffer 3-8, K. Veldman 2-5, Dau 1-2, Horsman 0-1, J. Veldman 0-3), Estherville 5-13 (C. Sievert 3-4, Dahl 1-3, Heywood 1-3, McCauley 0-3). Rebounds-Spirit Lake 32 (K. Veldman 7), Estherville 33 (Kirchner 9). Assists-Spirit Lake 5 (K. Veldman 2), Estherville 10 (Heywood 4). Fouls-Spirit Lake 17, Estherville 16. Fouled out-None.