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Storm Lake 66, ELC 61 Tornadoes hang on to beat Midgets

February 6, 2019
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

Estherville Lincoln Central came close to defeating one of the Lakes Conference co-champions, but the Midgets didn't quite have enough in falling 66-61 to Storm Lake on Tuesday.

ELC trailed by as many as 12 points in the final period and rallied to cut the deficit to three, 62-59, with 33 seconds left in the game. While the Midgets had a couple chances to get even closer, they couldn't convert while Storm Lake made free throws to seal the victory.

Storm Lake, LeMars and Western Christian finished in a three-way tie for the league title, as all went 9-3 in conference play. LeMars will leave the conference after this season.

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Tuesday was Senior Night for ELC, as coach Nick Gruhlke started five of the team's six seniors-Alec Heifner, Seth Vaske, Blake Miller, Connor Strenge, and Brian Egeland.

Egeland gave ELC its only lead with a 3-pointer from the corner to start the game. However, ELC trailed 16-5 after the first quarter.

The Midgets' sixth senior, Briar Rowley, opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer.

Then ELC's underclassmen took over the scoring load. Sophomore Matt Christensen scored six straight points followed by a 3-pointer from junior Izaak Sander. Freshman guard Ryan Schiltz stepped in scoring ELC's final eight points of the half, but the Midgets trailed 36-24 at the break.

Christensen kept working on the interior, scoring ELC's first seven points of the third quarter, but the Midgets trailed by 10, 41-31 with 5 minutes left. Storm Lake stretched its lead to 14 points, 45-31, before a 3-pointer by Sanders. But ELC finally cut the deficit to single digits by the end of the third period, with Schiltz scoring the final five points, as ELC trailed 51-43 to start the final stanza.

Storm Lake briefly pushed its lead back to 14, but ELC wasn't ready to be done. Christensen and Egeland scored consecutive baskets to get the deficit back to eight, 57-49. Then Sander hit consecutive 3-pointers as part of an 8-4 ELC run to get within four, 61-57 with 43.6 seconds.

After one free throw by the Tornadoes, Christensen scored to get ELC within three, 62-59.

Christensen led ELC with 19 points while Sander finished with 14 and Schiltz had 12. Egeland finished with five points while Heifner and Miller each had four and Rowley had three. ELC out-rebounded Storm Lake 33-25 led by Vaske with seven boards. Heifner had four assists while Miller had three blocked shots. Schiltz and Miller each had two steals.


ELC (4-17 overall, 0-12 in the Lakes Conference) begins tournament play Monday against Emmetsburg. That game will start at 6:30 p.m. at Pocahontas High School.

ELC defeated the E'Hawks twice this season, 57-52 on Dec. 18 and 53-45 on Jan. 17.



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