HULL - A good defensive second quarter against Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn helped propel the Estherville Lincoln Central boys into the Tuesday's Class 2A District final in Spencer.
The Midgets jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter against the Hawks, but led just 19-14 after one quarter. The second quarter proved the difference as ELC again scored 19 points, but held HMS to just eight points.
"Our defensive intensity in the second quarter was the difference and that led us to offensive points," said ELC coach Corey Christopher. "When we play like that, it gives us a chance to be successful."
The first half proved to be a fast-paced game with the Midgets shooting the lone free throw by either team in the first 16 minutes.
The Hawks, who entered the game with a 12-9 record, weren't about to go down easily.
HMS' Daniel Heitritter and ELC's Carsten Bosch exchanged 3-pointers over the first two minutes of the second half, but the Hawks were gradually able to chip into the lead, cutting the deficit two nine 46-37 at the 3:47 mark of the third period.
But ELC's offense got back on track as the Midget outscored the Hawks 12-4 over the remainder of the period to hold a comfortable 58-41 lead entering the final period.
But Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn wasn't done yet as they opened the fourth period with a 7-0 run to get back within 10. The Hawks closed the gap to eight, 62-54 with 3 minutes remaining.
"We don't have the kids that our tournament test," said Christopher. "Hartley put a good run on us. We have to recognize that we have to play with the same high intensity throughout."
A three-point play by Joe Heinrichs pushed the lead back to double digits and Justin Heinrichs, Bosch and David Hughes helped close out the game at the free-throw line. ELC converted 12-of-13 free throws in the fourth quarter with Hughes hitting the final two to push the lead back to 15 at 72-57.
ELC was 15-of-18 from the line on the night.
ELC also was efficient from the floor, making 27-of-51, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range.
Bosch led ELC with 18 points while Joe Heinrichs finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Justin Heinrichs had 13 points and three steals while Hughes had 12 points. Bryce Mann chipped in eight points while Noah Diekmann had six, Alex Miller had two and Clay Tredway had one.