It was a long time coming and it wasn't easy, but the Estherville Lincoln Central girls basketball team finally earned its first victory of the season on Friday.
The Midgets, winless through the first 14 games, had lost to Storm Lake by a point, 38-37, back on Dec. 13. That broke Storm Lake's 69-game losing streak.
The Tornadoes were looking for their second win when they came to town.
ELC’s Carson Gjerde (2) scored 22 points in the Midgets’ win over Storm Lake on Friday.
Photo by David Swartz
ELC would have none of it.
"All week you could see the determination in practice by the look in the girls' eyes," said ELC coach Tony Klein. "I'm very happy for the girls, especially after they've put all that time in. Doing it at home on Friday night-there's nothing better."
ELC used some defensive pressure early to create easy opportunities.
ELC point guard Carson Gjerde came up with several steals and layup, scoring the first 13 points for the Midgets as ELC jumped out to a 13-5 lead.
Storm Lake came up with a 3-pointer and a free throw, but ELC led 15-9 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, ELC kept extending its lead and Storm Lake kept fighting to stay in the game.
ELC led 22-13 after Megan Jensen had made four free throws in the last couple minutes and ELC led 22-15 at the break.
Gjerde and Caitlyn Clayton hit the first two baskets of the second half, but the Midgets couldn't put any more distance between them and the Tornadoes.
The visitors cut the deficit to just two twice in the third quarter.
But Clayton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give ELC a five-point advantage, 33-28.
Gjerde scored ELC's first five points of the final period as the Midgets took a 38-30 lead.
But a 3-pointer by Storm Lake's Rylee James cut the deficit back to five. Gjerde then fouled out with 4:20 remaining.
Coach Klein gave Clayton the responsibility of protecting the lead.
Clayton scored on a driving layup and later hit a free throw. ELC's lead was still just four, 41-37 when Clayton hit two free throws with 1:27 remaining. Storm Lake hit another basket. But two free throws by Rylee Miller and one from Jensen completed the scoring on the night.
Gjerde ended the night with a game-high 22 points while Clayton finished with 16, Jensen had six and Miller had two.
Storm Lake was led by James and Teondra O'Brien with 12 points each.
"I have all the respect in the world for our girls sticking it out this year," said Jensen. "I want to thank Coach Klein for his faith in us and sticking with it."
ELC (1-14 overall, 1-8 in the Lakes Conference) is at Cherokee on Tuesday and home against Spirit Lake next Friday.
The ELC?Junior Varsity girls defeated Storm Lake 51-6 on Friday. Emily Behrends led ELC with 12 points, Ally Andrews had 11, Rylee Miller had seven, Briesde Segura, Gabby Heckard and Cydnie Anderson each had four, Olivia Truog had three, Gracie Schnell, Alyss Hatland and Bailey Frederickson each had two points.
The ELC?JV?lost 45-15 to Spencer on Tuesday. Hallie Jensen had six points.