E’Hawk Cagers Advance In Postseason Campaign With Pair Of Victories
When tournament time comes around, records are thrown out and a whole new season begins for basketball teams. But, there’s a catch – one loss, and you’re done.
So, the task is quite simple, actually – don’t lose.
That’s just what the Emmetsburg E’Hawks have done in their first two games down the tournament trail.
After having their tournament opener from Monday, Feb. 15 postponed two days due to bad weather, the E’Hawks earned a measure of revenge in taking a 48-40 win over Spirit Lake on Wednesday night.
Like their meeting a week earlier, the two teams came out fighting tooth and nail from the opening tip to the final horn. Both teams matched bucket for bucket, with Spirit Lake taking an 8-6 lead after the first quarter on Emmetsburg’s home court, but the E’Hawks would continue to play their game and came back to post a digit lead at the intermission, 19-18.
The battle would pick up right where it left off in the third quarter, but Emmetsburg’s defense was able to hold Spirit Lake’s offense to just eight points in the quarter that would allow the E’Hawks to edge out to a 32-26 lead when the third quarter ended.
The two clubs would trade buckets in the final quarter as Spirit Lake tried to claw their way back into the game, but Emmetsburg would persevere to claim the the eight-point, 48-40 victory.
Balanced scoring was the rule for the E’Hawk offense in the win, with Nick Wuebker coming away with 12 points, while Nate Brown and Tommy Kuecker both added 10 point efforts. Cory Schultes added seven points, while Bobby Gappa came up with five markers and Ryan Kliegl chipped in three points. Kyle Elbert rounded out the effort with a free throw for the E’Hawks, who mate 15 of 38 shots from inside the arc for 39 percent shooting and six of 16 outside the arc for 37 percent accuracy. At the line, Emmetsburg made 12 of 21 attempts, 57 percent.
Nick Wuebker would grab seven boards in the effort, while Ryan Kliegl dished out five assists.
But as the saying goes, there was no time to bask in the win, as the next night, the E’Hawks hosted Estherville Lincoln Central in the Class 2A quarterfinal contest at Emmetsburg.
Playing back-to-back games is always a test of a team’s mental toughness and conditioning, let alone the old adage that it’s always tough to beat a team three times. The E’Hawks had defeated ELC twice before in the regular season by scores of 49-44 and 55-44, so a third game was completely up for grabs.
ELC?came into the Emmetsburg gym riding a high from an upset win over Lake Mills the night before, but the E’Hawks were riding their own high off the revenge win over Spirit Lake on Wednesday night.
The game became one of tactical strategy, as ELC?tried to play a slow-down, deliberate offensive contest. The scheme worked to their advantage as they managed to take a 12-10 lead over the E’Hawks at the end of the first quarter, but there was plenty of basketball to be played.
Emmetsburg countered in the second quarter by switching to a full-court press, which would pick up the tempo of the game. Even though the Midgets had taken a six-point, 18-12 lead midway through the second frame, the pressure defense was soon to pay off, as the Midgets would begin to commit turnovers that let the E’Hawks quickly tie the game at 18, only to see?ELC?retake the lead off a three-pointer at 21-18.
But, a huge bucket by Nick Wuebker and subsequent foul shot would allow Emmetsburg to tie the game back up at the intermission.
Ryan Kliegl started the second half with a shot from downtown for the E’Hawks, but the two teams would battle bucket for bucket in the third quarter, with Estherville Lincoln Central finally taking a 35-32 lead to end the third frame.
Emmetsburg would rally to start the final quarter, using a layup from Wuebker, and a technical foul free throw from Nate Brown before Tommy Kuecker dropped a jumper into the hole to give the E’Hawks the lead back.
ELC?would fight back again and tie the game at 37-37, but with the clock running down, Emmetsburg needed a spark.
The E’Hawks didn’t get a spark, they got lightning – that struck twice in the same spot.
Nick Wuebker would take perfect feeds from his teammates and delivered not one, but two thundering, rim rattling slam dunks over the ELC?defenders that all but ended the game, as Wuebker would put in nine points on his own in the outburst, putting the E’Hawks up once and for all and allowing Emmetsburg to claim the 49-38 final margin of victory.
Nick Wuebker would lead the scoring with 23 points on the night, while Ryan Kliegl collected a double-double with 10 points and and 10 rebounds in the win. Tommy Kuecker added eight points, while Cory Schultes chipped in four points. Kyle Elbert added three markers and Nate Brown dropped in a free throw to close out the scoring.
Emmetsburg made 19 of their 48 shots from inside the arc, 39 percent accuracy, but made just three of 12 three pointers, 25 percent shooting. At the charity stripe, the E’Hawks connected on eight of 14 shots, 59 percent accuracy.
Nick Wuebker grabbed eight rebounds, while Ryan Kliegl would dish out five assists. Tommy Kuecker handed out four helpers to his teammates. Cory Schultes made three steals in the winning effort.
The victory set up the E’Hawks’ appearance in tonight (Tuesday’s) District Final against Garner-Hayfield at 7 p.m. in the Algona High School gym.
Garner-Hayfield made its way into the district final after a 44-23 win over Okoboji on Wednesday night and a 68-48 win over West Hancock on Thursday.
“From what we’ve seen on tape, they can be very hot one night and off another,” noted Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Brennan. “They can hit the three, and all of their kids can hit it. That makes a team have to come out to defend that, which could be tough.”
The winner of the District Three final will meet the winner of the District Four final between Eagle Grove and Carroll Kuemper being played in Humboldt.
That substate game would be played this Saturday, Feb. 27, at Fort Dodge Senior High School, starting at 7 p.m.