LEMARS - For the first two quarters, the Estherville Lincoln Central boys looked like they'd give LeMars a true test. Thanks to a 3-pointer by Justin Heinrichs just across the half-court line at the halftime buzzer, the Midgets trailed the Bulldogs just 31-30 at the break.
But midway through the third quarter, LeMars' pressure combined with some ELC mistakes allowed the Bulldogs to pull away for a 55-40 advantage. The hosts kept the momentum through the fourth quarter to cruise to a 79-53 victory.
ELC coach Corey Christopher said it was a "tale of two halves."
Pleased with his team's first half play, he second the "second half was as poorly as we could've played."
The Midgets were playing on back-to-back nights after losing to Class 1A No. 2 Newell-Fonda by three points on Monday.
Christopher said his team may have been physically and mentally fatigued.
""It was a very similar intensity on the defensive end in the second half, "he said "We looked like our feet were heavy."
LeMars jumped out to a 15-11 lead over ELC in the first quarter. The second quarter was the Heinrichs' show for ELC as Joe or Justin scored every single point for the Midgets.
Joe scored the first eight ELC points of the quarter, keeping the Midgets within a basket at 21-19. Justin's 3-pointer at the 2-minute mark gave ELC a brief 22-21 lead, but the hosts went on a 7-0 run over the next meeting halted only by two free throws from Joe Heinrichs as ELC trailed 28-24. After a 3-pointer by LeMars' Jake Irwin pushed the lead back to seven, Justin Heinrichs converted a three-point play to answer. ELC then had the last shot of the half with Justin Heinrichs just crossing half-court when he launched his 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one.
ELC briefly took the lead to start the second half when Carsten Bosch converted a three-point play. The teams were tied at 35-35 and 37-37 after baskets by David Hughes.
But LeMars' Tyler Paulson hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run. ELC got back to within four at 44-40. But the Bulldogs finished at the quarter with an 11-0 run and the Midgets never threatened in the final frame.
Justin Heinrichs led ELC with 13 points, all in the first half. Hughes and Justin Heinrichs each had 11 while Carsten Bosch had 10, Bryce Mann had six and Clay Tredway had two.
ELC was 9-of-10 from the free throw line, but unofficially finished with 17 turnovers after just seven in the first half.
LeMars also had 11 3-pointer to ELC's four. The Bulldogs were 10-of-14 from the free-throw line and unofficially had 11 turnovers.
Irwin led LeMars with 36 points.