INWOOD - The final minute of Monday's Class 2A first-round game between Estherville Lincoln Central and Okoboji wasn't that exciting. But that last second-oh boy.
Jacob Heinrichs' heave at the buzzer swished through the basket to give the Midgets a 51-48 victory over the Pioneers.
"We drew up a play and were a little sluggish in running it," said ELC coach Don Martindale. "But Jacob had the presence of mind to get it off. I'm so proud of the kids. Okoboji is a high-powered offense. We pride ourselves on defense and rebounding and it was good except in the third period."
ELC (7-15 overall) advances to the next round on Thursday, where they will travel to Hull to take on the top-ranked Western Christian Wolfpack.
The Midgets got off to a great start against Okoboji with four different ELC players hitting shots to open up a 9-2 run. Heinrichs started the game with a 3-pointer followed baskets each from Jayson Moeller, Trevor Friesner and Trey Jacobson. Okoboji answered with an 8-1 run to tie the game at 10-10.
However, a basket by Friesner a 3-pointer from Jacobson and a layup by Jacobson at the buzzer had ELC finishing the opening quarter on a 7-0 run to lead 17-10.
After a basket by the Pioneers to start the second quarter, a 3-pointer by Jacob Bosch started a 9-0 ELC run as the Midgets led 26:12 with 4:30 left in the half. Okoboji's offense still struggled the rest of the way as ELC led 30-18 at the break.
However, the Pioneers weren't ready to fold yet. They came out of the locker room attacking the basket. A 3-pointer by Logan Abrahamson capped an 18-2 run in the first five minutes of the second half as Okoboji took a 36-34 lead. Moeller answered with a 3-pointer followed by a three-point play to give ELC a 40-38 lead, but a 3-pointer by Okoboji's Bryce Peter had the Pioneers with a 41-40 lead to start the final frame.
Okoboji cooled off in the final period, but the Pioneers still took a 48-45 lead. With just under 2 minutes left, Jacobson drove in for a layup and converted the three-point play to tie the game at 48-48.
Okoboji took a quick shot at the other end of the floor. ELC secured the rebound and began playing for the final shot. After running the clock to 20 seconds, the Midgets took a time out. With only three team fouls against ELC, Okoboji fouled three times while going for steals.
The Pioneers called timeout with 7 seconds remaining, which also allowed ELC to set up for the final play.
Bosch inbounded the ball to Heinrichs, who dribbled first to the right from the top of the key. Moeller had set a screen and then cut to the basket, but two Pioneer defenders stayed with Heinrichs. Dribbling back to the left, Heinrichs suddenly stopped at the top of the key and had to adjust his shot mid-air. The shot left his hand and the buzzer sounded with the ball halfway to the basket.
The ELC crowd exploded as the ball swished through the net.
"I'm really proud of the effort," said Martindale. "When you can win a game like this, it's hats off to the players."
Heinrichs finished with 15 points to lead ELC. Friesner and Moeller each had 11 points while Jacobson had 10, Bosch had three and Bennett Loock had one.
ELC shot 51 percent (19-of-37) for the game including 46 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range. The Midgets were 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
Kip Hurd led the Pioneers with 16 points and Abrahamson had four.
Friesner finished with seven rebounds and he, Jacobson, Bosch and Moeller each had three assists.