SIOUX CITY - Estherville Lincoln Central came up with its biggest win of the season in avenging last year's loss to Bishop Heelan on Saturday.
The Midgets built an 18-point lead early in the second half, but watched the Crusaders rally to take the lead, 55-53 on a three-point play by Taylor Kooistra, late in the fourth quarter.
After ELC's Sara Heywood made the front end of a 1-and-1 with 55 seconds left, Allie Sievert forced a jump ball on the defensive end. With the possession arrow pointing ELC's way, the Midgets took advantage and Emily Kirchner made a close shot to put ELC back in the lead, 56-55 with 25 seconds remaining.
ELc’s Emily Kirchner finds just enough space to get her shot off against Class 4A No. 1 Bishop Heelan at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City on Saturday.
ELC had a chance to add to the lead after Sara Heywood caused a turnover, but Macy Dahl missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
But Bishop Heelan never got off a shot, committing a turnover with 5 seconds left. Kirchner was fouled and made one free throw for the 57-55 final score and then stole the ball to preserve the win.
The victory avenges last year's 65-59 overtime loss to the Crusaders.
Heelan graduated three senior starters from last year's squad while ELC's lineup featured four returning starters. The Crusaders entered Saturday's contest with a 7-1 record with their lone loss to Bellevue East (Neb.). Heelan had already defeated two Lakes Conference foes this season-Spirit Lake, 67-47 on Nov. 24 and LeMars, 56-46, on Dec. 18.
The Midgets fell behind 11-4 early in the first quarter, but rallied to tie the game at 13-13 before Bishop Heelan's Jenna Bork hit a half-court shot at the end of the first quarter.
ELC responded with an 18-0 run to start the second quarter with a Casey Sievert 3-pointer giving the Midgets the lead at 19-16. Allie Sievert scored the next five points followed by a basket from Kirchner, a 3-pointer by Dahl and a steal and layup by Heywood for a 31-16 ELC advantage.
MaKayla Augustine, who was 1-for-11 from the field, was fouled and made two free throws to end the Crusaders' drought.
But ELC led 35-21 at the break.
After the Midgets scored the first two baskets of the third quarter for the biggest lead of the afternoon, 39-21, Bishop Heelan began its rally. The Crusaders finished off the third period with an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 47-42.
Kirchner led the Midgets with 17 points while Allie Sievert tossed in 15 and Casey Sievert and Heywood each finished with eight. Maggie McCauley had six points while Dahl had three.
Allie Sievert finished with nine rebounds and Casey Sievert had four assists. McCauley and Kirchner each had three assists and Kirchner had four steals.
Kooistra led the Crusaders with 15 points and Megan McCarthy finished with 10.