In spite of a slow start, the Estherville Lincoln Central girls gave Emmetsburg everything it could handle in the regular season finale on Tuesday.
The Midgets trailed by three points several times in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get the stop or basket they needed to get over the hump.
ELC scored just two points in the opening frame as they trailed 9-2. ELC did better in the second quarter, but the E'Hawks still won the frame 9-8 as they led 18-10 at the halftime.
Caitlyn Clayton heated up in the third quarter as she scored nine of ELC's 10 points in the period, closing the gap to four, 21-17 with a 3-pointer at the 3:10 mark and cutting the deficit to two, 22-20, on a basket with 45 seconds left in the period.
But Emmetsburg's Ashley Connelly converted a three-point play with 30 seconds left to give the visitors a 25-20 lead to start the final frame.
Clayton hit the first basket of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to three points again. But the teams simply traded baskets throughout the period. ELC still trailed by three, 31-28, on a driving layup by Carson Gjerde with 24 seconds remaining.
But Connelly made two free throws to pus the lead back to five and ELC couldn't get another basket.
Clayton led ELC with 15 points while Gjerde had seven, Hallie Jensen had four and Megan Jensen had two.
Connelly and Alexa Naig led the E'Hawks with 11 points each.
ELC (1-19 overall) opens tournament play at 7 p.m., today, in Spirit Lake.
The ELC Junior Varsity girls lost 31-22 to the E'Hawks. Rylee Miller had eight points, Ally Andrews had seven and Bailey Frederickson had four.