ELC knocks down No. 5 Spirit Lake –
SPIRIT LAKE — With a week to prepare, Estherville Lincoln Central definitely was ready to take on Class 3A No. 5 Spirit Lake on Tuesday.
Except for the opening basket by the Indians’ Amber Kirschbaum, the Midgettes played a patient offensive game and led the entire way in a 50-36 upset.
Spirit Lake’s Kaisha Brown, a first-team all-state selection a year ago, still poured in 20 points, but ELC limited Kirschbaum to nine points and the rest of the Indians to seven points.
ELC coach Brad Leonard said the team’s main priority was to limit Kirschbaum’s points.
“It started with Landra Lapka and Kelsie McCauley with a lot of help from everybody else,” he said. “She (Amber) didn’t get many opportunities.”
Also, the free throw line was truly the charity stripe for ELC, as the Midgettes converted 22-of-24 attempts.
After Kirschbaum’s basket, the Midgettes went on a 10-0 run with Christa Clayton getting a steal and short jumper then scoring on an out-of-bounds play. A basket by Emily Jensen, two free throws from Kelsie McCauley and a basket from Alex Olesen completed the run. But Kaisha Brown came back with her first basket and Chelsie Stettnichs hit a layup to cut the lead to 10-6.
The Midgettes’ defense, which forced nine Indian turnovers in the first quarter, lost sight of Brown for a moment to start the second quarter as she knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer.
Leonard immediately called a timeout to let his team know that shouldn’t happen.
ELC came back on the court with Taylor Larson and Christa Clayton scoring the next two baskets. After a basket from Stettnichs, Melanie Bandow hit a free throw jumper.
ELC led 18-11 with two minutes remaining and patiently ran their offense.
Kirschbaum scored her second basket with 1:41 remaining and ELC ran out the rest of the clock to hang onto an 18-11 lead heading into the lockerroom.
In the third quarter, the Indians cut the lead to two twice around the four-minute mark.
But ELC responded in the final minutes, with Larson driving in for a layup, Bandow hitting a jumper from the free throw line and Jensen working her way in to push ELC’s lead to 29-21.
Two free throws by Larson gave ELC a 10-point lead, but the Midgettes’ fouled Brown on a 3-pointer attempt at the buzzer.
She sank all three free throws to cut ELC’s lead to 31-24 to start the final frame.
However ELC pushed the lead to 12 with Jensen, Larson and Clayton all converting from the free throw line.
The Indians last five points came from Brown as Kirschbaum fouled out with 1:12 remaining.
Clayton led ELC with 16 points while Emily Jensen had nine, Larson had eight and Bandow and Lapka each scored six.
Spirit Lake coach Rick Reinking, in his first year with the Indians, took the some of the blame for the loss.
“We haven’t seen as quick as team as ELC,” he said.
Spirit Lake returns to action Friday at Hull.
ELC will host Lake Mills on Thursday. Varsity girls start play at 6 p.m.
ELC 50, Spirit Lake 36
Estherville Lincoln Central (50) – Landra Lapka 2 2-2 6; Melanie Bandow 2 2-2 6; Taylar Jacobson 0 1-2 1; Emily Jensen 2 5-6 9; Alex Olesen 1 0-0 2; Kelsie McCauley 0 2-2 2; Taylor Larson 2 4-4 8; Christa Clayton 5 6-6 16; Maggie Asman 0 0-0 0; Kassie Heckard 0 0-0 0.
Spirit Lake (36) – Mary Brown 0 0-0 0; Caila Jones 1 0-0 2; Chelsie Stettnichs 2 0-0 4; Sammy Spies 0 0-0 0; Ashley Colwell 0 0-0 0; Kaisha Brown 6 5-7 20; Regan Sieperda 0 1-2 1; Amber Kirschbaum 4 1-3 9; Jen Kirschbaum 0 0-0 0.
Halftime score — ELC 18, Spirit Lake 13. 3-pointers – ELC 0; SL 3 (K. Brown 3) . Rebounds – ELC 14 (Bandow 4); SL n/a. Assists – ELC 7 (Larson 3); SL n/a. Steals – ELC 5 (Jensen 2); SL n/a. Blocked Shots – ELC 0; SL n/a. Turnovers – ELC 8; SL 32. Total Fouls – ELC 17; SL 17. Fouled Out – A. Kirschbaum, M. Brown. Technical Fouls – none.