Class 3A No. 3 Estherville Lincoln Central gave its fans a little scare Saturday as they watched Algona tie the game at 24-24 late in the third quarter.
But the Midgets' defense again came through while the offense picked up enough to go on a 18-3 run as ELC had a 42-27 lead with under a minute left in the game and went on to win 45-32.
ELC advances to the region semifinal against Hampton-Dumont (19-3), who won 64-34 over Clarion-Goldfield on Saturday. The semifinal will be played at 7 p.m., Wednesday in Algona.
ELC’s Sara Heywood (14) slices through the Algona defense for two of her game-high 13 points in Saturday’s victory.
EDN photo by David Swartz
On Saturday, ELC point guard Sara Heywood seemed to make the plays when the Midgets needed one on this night, scoring four points in a 6-0 run to break the tie. That included a baseline drive where she went under the basket and then hit a short jumper.
After a score by Algona to cut the lead to 30-26, Heywood found Maggie McCauley on a cut to the basket right before the end of the third quarter.
McCauley then opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, Allie Sievert added a free-throw line jumper. A free throw by Emily Kirchner and two by Heywood gave the Midgets a 40-27 lead with 2:32 left in the game.
ELC slowed the pace down and both teams missed several shots, but Heywood made another hustle play after losing the ball while bringing across the half-court line. She rushed back and knocked the ball loose from Algona's Tangy Wiseman, then dived on it while calling timeout.
After the timeout, Kirchner scored to put ELC up 42-27.
The first quarter, ELC showed its typical defensive effort while struggling to make shots under the basket at times.
The Midgets caused 12 turnovers in the opening frame and seemed to know where Algona players were going to pass the ball before they did.
Casey Sievert gave ELC the game's first points on a 3-pointer followed by a free throw by Heywood and two more by Allie Sievert. Heywood scored the next four points as ELC led 10-0.
Algona's Abby Strohman finally broke the lid on the basket with 1:05 remaining in the period and the 10-2 score held up for the first period.
ELC appeared ready to blow out the Bulldogs as McCauley hit a 3-pointer and Allie Sievert scored inside on a pass from Caitlyn Clayton for a 1-2 lead.
But ELC's offense went cod as Algona ended the period with a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 17-13.
The Bulldogs battled back in the third quarter and tied the game on a 3-pointer by Weisman at 24-24.
Heywood led ELC with 13 points along with three assists and four steals. McCauley finished with nine points while Kirchner and Allie Sievert each finished with eight and Casey Sievert had seven.
ELC struggled at the free-throw line in the first half, going 3-for-10 including 0-of-6 by Kirchner. But the Midgets finished the night 16-of-26 with Kirchner hitting four straight free throws at one point in the second half.
ELC finished with 23 rebounds led by Kirchner with seven.
Wiseman led Algona with eight points. The Bulldogs were 11-of-15 from the free throw line and finished with 27 rebounds led by Heather Ziesman with 10.