For the second time this week an unbeaten team stepped on the floor of the Estherville Lincoln Central fieldhouse.
On Monday, it was Class 1A No. 2 Newell-Fonda. Friday, Class 2A top-ranked Western Christian came to town.
The Midgets gave the Wolfpack a good battle through most of the first half, but Western Christian put together a 12-0 run to end the first 16 minutes as they led 37-22 at the break. The visitors kept extending their lead on the way to a 72-44 victory.
ELC’s Noah Diekmann returned to the lineup, giving the Midgets an extra big body off the bench. Diekmann finished with five points against Western Christian. To see more photos, go to cu.esthervillenews.net.
Photo by David Swartz
"I'm happy with how we played for parts of the first half," said ELC coach Corey Christopher. "We withstood their pressure and got some shots to fall.
"But then I thought we got to loose with the ball and before you know it, they have a 10 to 12-point lead," the coach said. "You go into these names knowing you need a nearly flawless game."
ELC took a 7-5 lead 2 minutes into the game on a 3-pointer by Carsten Bosch. Western Christians' Kyle Fopma answered with one of his own to get the Wolfpack on top. But the Midgets David Hughes scored the next two baskets and Joe Heinrichs hit a jumper as ELC took a 13-8 lead with 3 minutes left in the first quarter.
But the Midgets did score again in the period while the visitors went on an 8-0 run to lead 16-13.
Heinrichs converted a 3-pointer play to start the second quarter to tie the game. ELC still trailed 20-19 after Bosch's second 3-pointer of the night and trailed by two, 22-20 after a free throw by Hughes.
But by the time Noah Diekmann scored a putback to make the score 25-22, both Bosch and Heinrichs were on the bench with three fouls with 3 minutes left in the first half.
That's when Western Christian put together its run.
Coach Christopher noted of the three games this week, this is the second time Bosch has been in foul trouble.
"When we have high pressure like this, we need to find ways to keep him on the floor," said Christopher of the 6-foot point guard.
Meanwhile Heinrichs has been one of the more consistent players and he ended up leading the Midgets with 16 points on Friday.
"As coaches, we kind of know what we're going to get out of him every night," said Christopher. "We need a couple more like him."
In the third quarter, ELC did all it could to keep the Wolfpack within 20, but trailed 56-31 to start the final frame.
Bosch finished with 12 points for ELC while Hughes had seven, Diekmann had five and Justin Heinrichs and Kyle DeVary each had two.
ELC was 6-of-8 from the free-throw line while the Wolfpack was 16-of-24.
Unofficially 15 of ELC's 19 turnovers came in the first half.
Fopma and Josh VanLingen led Western Christian with 17 points each. VanLingen also had 13 rebounds. Taylor Feenstra finished with 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Unofficially, the Wolfpack out-rebounded ELC 48-25.
ELC falls to 10-10 on the season and 6-7 in the Lakes Conference.
The Midgets end the regular season at home against Emmetsburg on Tuesday.
ELC defeated Emmetsburg 80-50 the first time round when Joe Heinrichs erupted for 26 points, shooting 10-of-10 from the field including 6-of-6 from 3-point range.
ELC starts 2A district play at home against Sibley-Ocheyedan on Monday, Feb. 17.