ALGONA — Although not a tall team, Estherville Lincoln Central’s players hadn’t let that stop them much this season.
Giving up just one game to a taller Spencer team early in the season and another to Western Christian in an overtime loss were the only glitches.
On Saturday, the Midgettes ran into an extremely tall team with three players six-feet or taller.
Even that didn’t faze ELC. The two teams were tied at 25-25 partway through the third quarter when the Midgettes suddenly couldn’t make the shots they’d made all season.
Algona still only led by five points, 32-27, heading into the fourth quarter and gave ELC plenty of chances in the final frame.
However the shooting never came around as the Midgettes fell 48-32 to the Bulldogs.
“Their size hurt us and we struggled to get anything going on the offensive end,” said ELC coach Brad Leonard. “Credit their defense, we just didn’t get any continuity on offense.”
Algona opened with a 7-2 run with Emily Jensen scoring ELC’s first points. Landra Lapka scored two consecutive baskets to pull ELC within one at 7-6.
After a basket by Algona’s Kirsten Lipps, ELC’s Christa Clayton scored six of the next seven points to help ELC pull ahead 13-9.
But Lipps knocked down a 3-pointer and 6-4 center Katelyn Seely added a basket to give the visitors a 14-13 lead after one quarter.
Clayton opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, but then had to sit down for the final five minutes of the half as she picked up her second and third fouls in quick succession.
A basket by Lapka returned the lead to ELC, but the Bulldogs scored the next five points.
ELC trailed by just one and Leonard was giving instructions to his team for one last shot before halftime, but was called for a technical for leaving the bench.
That proved to be a four-point swing as Algona’s Laura Terhark knocked down two free throws and Sealy added another basket at the buzzer for a 25-20 Algona lead.
Taylar Jacobson opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer and Jensen hit a jumper to tie the game at 25-25.
Clayton had a chance to give ELC the lead at the free throw line with just under five minutes remaining, but uncharacteristically missed both. The Bulldogs scored the next seven points until Kelsey McCauley hit a tougher baseline jumper with 15 seconds left in the third.
A free throw by Taylor Larson to start the fourth had the Midgettes within four, but a basket and 3-pointer by Lipps pushed the lead up to nine, 27-38.
From that point, the Midgettes just couldn’t buy a shot. A basket by Clayton with 1:43 remaining cut the deficit to seven, 39-32 and ELC had other chances to close the gap, but couldn’t get anything to fall.
Clayton led ELC with 13 points and Lapka had six.
The Bulldogs were efficient from two-point range, making 11-of-19 with Lipps going 6-of-7 from 2-point range and 2-of-3 from 3-point range while shooting 3-of-3 from the free throw line.
Seely was 4-of-4 from 2-point range.
The Bulldogs were 17-of-23 from the free throw line compared to just 2-of-8 for the Midgettes. Terhark had all 11 points from the free throw line as she was 11-of-14.
ELC ends the season with a 19-4 record.
“This has been a great season for the kids,” said Leonard. “They’re been a lot of great memories and a lot to be proud of.”
ELC says farewell to four seniors, Christa Clayton, Landra Lapka, Melanie Bandow and Kassie Heckard.
“I started with this group of seniors and its hard to see them go,” said Leonard, who completes his fourth season as head coach. “They’ve all made a lot of sacrifices to achieve the things they have in basketball.”
No. 10 Algona 48, No. 12 ELC 32
Estherville Lincoln Central (32) – Landra Lapka 3 0-0 6; Melanie Bandow 0 0-0 0; Taylar Jacobson 1 0-0 3; Emily Jensen 2 0-0 4; Alex Olesen 0 1-2 1; Kelsie McCauley 1 0-0 2; Taylor Larson 1 1-4 2; Christa Clayton 6 0-2 13.
Halftime score — Algona 25, ELC 20. 3-pointers – 2 (Jacobson, Clayton). Rebounds – n/a. Assists – n/a. Steals – n/a. Blocked Shots – n/a. Turnovers – n/a. Total Fouls – n/a. Fouled Out – Larson. Technical Fouls – ELC.