A popular Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."
The Class 3A No. 3 Estherville Lincoln Central Girls Basketball Team took its first step toward a successful season and a potential third straight trip to the state tournament with a 65-48 victory over Class 2A No. 15 Manson-Northwest Webster on Tuesday.
While ELC's five senior starters-Sara Heywood, Macy Dahl, Emily Kirchner, Casey Sievert and Allie Sievert-have oodles of varsity experience, the Midgets' bench is a bit of a question mark.
Maggie McCauley scored 11 points off the bench as Estherville Lincoln Central defeated Manson-Northwest Webster 65-48 in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday.
EDN photo by David Swartz
With some early foul trouble, the bench was tested early and came through with a strong performance.
Senior shooting guard Maggie McCauley provided three three-pointers and finished with 11 points off the bench. Sophomore post player Caitlyn Clayton also played solid minutes and finished with six points.
ELC got off to a slow start to start the game.
"The first game we were getting some nerves out," said ELC first-year coach Tony Klein.
The Midgets worked the ball inside early and often, but struggled to get some of the short shots to fall.
"We're trying to get the ball inside every time down whether it's Allie, Emily, Caitlyn or Casey," said Klein.
Heywood scored the first point of the 2012-13 season on a free throw, but then Kirchner picked up her second foul 2 minutes into the first period.
McCauley came off the bench, but the visiting Cougars took a 5-2 lead on a 3-pointer by Hunter Jud.
ELC responded with a baseline jumper by Casey Sievert and moments later, McCauley was fouled after a steal and layup attempt. Her two free throws gave ELC the lead for good at 6-5 and then she hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to four.
ELC pushed its lead to 13-7, when the Cougars hit there second trey. But Heywood hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give ELC a 16-10 edge.
ELC went to the free throw line often in the second quarter with Heywood, Kirchner and Clayton and Allie Sievert all hitting a pair as ELC pulled away to a 33-19 lead.
Allie Sievert scored the first two baskets for ELC to start the second half, but then picked up her third foul.
However ELC maintained its double-digit lead and pushed their advantage to 15 on McCauley's second 3-pointer of the night at 40-25.
That was followed by a 9-2 run that ended with McCauley's third 3-pointer as ELC led 49-27.
Leading 51-29 to start the final frame, ELC maintained its distance with a putback by Kirchner giving the Midgets their biggest lead of the night at 61-38.
On the defensive end, she picked up her fifth foul, but ELC went on cruise control the rest of the game.
After just five free throws in the first half, Allie Sievert led the Midgets with 17 points and nine rebounds. Kirchner finished with 11 points and eight boards. Heywood scored 10 points, Casey Sievert had eight and Megan Jensen had two.
Manson-Northwest Webster was led by junior Ellie Herzberg, who finished with 20 points.
Unofficially, ELC finished with 13 turnovers compared to 24 by the Cougars.
ELC also out-rebounded the visitors 31-22.
ELC (1-0 overall) travels to Sioux City this weekend for a pair of games. The Midgets will play Class 3A No. 2 MOC-Floyd Valley on Friday. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
ELC will play Sioux City North at 2 p.m. Saturday.