Tonight marks the beginning of the end for the six seniors originally known as the Mini-Midgets.
Whether Macy Dahl, Sara Heywood, Emily Kirchner, Maggie McCauley, Casey Sievert and Allie Sievert play just one more game (unlikely), or six more games (hopefully), these six seniors have given Estherville Lincoln Central fans plenty to cheer about the past four years.
Three of them, Heywood, Kirchner and Allie Sievert started varsity as freshmen. When Heywood went down with a knee injury that first year, Macy Dahl finished out the rest of the season as a starter and her defense has made her a starter since. Casey Sievert essentially spent the first three years as the first sub off the bench until the graduation of Alyssa Johnson last year opened up the final starting position. McCauley fills the first substitute role this season.
Although ELC ended the regular season with a disappointing loss to Western Christian on Tuesday, the Midgets don't have to worry about the Wolfpack in the postseason.
For fans who haven't paid attention, the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union went from four classes to five classes in basketball. Western Christian remains in 2A, where they have been ranked first all season, while ELC (18-3) has been ranked third in Class 3A.
The top three teams in Class 3A have not changed during the 2012-13 season. Defending 3A champion Davenport Assumption (18-2) has been ranked first while last year's 3A runner-up, MOC-Floyd Valley (20-1) has been ranked second.
The Midgets played the Dutch early in the season, rallying from a 12-point deficit before MOC-Floyd Valley closed out the game at the free throw line to win by nine.
The Dutch's lone loss this season is to Western Christian.
However, ELC also won't see the Dutch in the postseason unless it's at the state tournament as both are in different regions-the Midgets in Region 3 and the Dutch in Region 1.
The Midgets open the postseason at home tonight against Algona (13-8).
Algona is coming off a 45-28 loss to Hampton-Dumont on Thursday.
The Bulldogs are averaging 41.8 points per game and are led by 5-8 junior Tangy Wiseman, who averages 8.8 points per game.
"Algona is a tough team and very disciplined," said ELC coach Tony Klein. "Everyone is solid so we'll still have to play well. Algona is very patient on offense, but they do seem to be bothered by some pressure."
The winner will play either HamptonDumont (18-3) or Clarion-Goldfield (5-16). Although unranked, Hampton-Dumont's losses are twice to Clear Lake, ranked 14th in Class 4A, and once to North Butler, ranked fifth in Class 2A. Hampton-Dumont, also nicknamed the Bulldogs, is led by 5-10 senior Taryn Barz who averages nearly 17 points a game and shoots 54.6 percent from the field and 79.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Tonight's winners will meet in Algona at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The top side of the Region 3 bracket features Iowa Falls-Alden (14-7) vs. Roland-Story (10-11) and South Hardin (8-13) vs. 10th-ranked Nevada (17-4).
The Midgets also won't see rival Spirit Lake unless at the state tournament.
The ninth-ranked Indians are also in Class 3A, but in Region 2.
Spirit Lake (13-8) lost their leading scorer, KJ Veldman, for part of the season, but she's been playing well since her return.
The Indians start the tournament tonight at home against former Lakes Conference rival Sheldon (5-16). The winner plays either Sioux Center (14-7) over Unity Christian (16-5). On the other side of the bracket, Forest City (6-14) takes on Osage (14-6) and Central Springs (6-15) takes on Garner-Hayfield/Ventura (14-7).