FORT?DODGE?- In a hard-fought contest, someone has to win and someone has to lose – there’s no way around it. For Emmetsburg’s E’Hawks, the basketball season came to a close sooner than hoped for in a heartbreaking 52-50 loss to Carroll Kuemper in a Class 2A Substate Game at Fort Dodge Saturday night. Coach Mike Brennan’s E’Hawks shut the door on a season that ended with 16 wins and eight losses overall.
After winning a close, two-point victory over Garner-Hayfield in the District Final on Wednesday night, the E’Hawks knew they had a big challenge in meeting the Knights of Carroll Kuemper Saturday night at Fort Dodge in the substate matchup.
The two teams came into the contest with nearly identical records, and the game showed that parity.
Emmetsburg got off so a somewhat rocky start, as even though they were able to take a slight lead over the Knights, the game officials where on the whistle early and often, ringing up Tommy Kuecker and Nick Wuebker for two fouls each within the first 4:00 of the contest, limiting what the two defenders could do. Things went from bad to worse midway through the first quarter, when Wuebker was rung up for a third foul, sending the big post player to the bench much too early.
Emmetsburg continued to battle, however, trading the lead back and forth with Kuemper as the quarter ticked down, and used a quick spurt at the end of the quarter to post a 17-15 lead at the end of the first stanza.
With Wuebker on the bench to start the second period, the E’Hawks continued to battle the speedy Knights, and both squads would not be able to find the bucket in the first 1:30 of the second quarter.
Much like the first quarter, one team would score, only to be answered in kind, keeping the score tied up as the first half came to a close. With play getting very physical inside the paint on both ends of the court, Kuemper would get the advantage of bonus free throws late in the half and took a 23-21 lead to the locker room at the intermission.
The E’Hawks came out of the locker room to start the third quarter with both Kuecker and big man Wuebker back on the floor, to quickly put a 7-0 run on the Knights in the first minute and a half of the third, forcing Kuemper to take a time out to try and regroup.
With a 28-23 lead, Emmetsburg looked to have an answer for Kuemper’s three-quarter court press, but the Knights kept up the pressure and forced several turnovers and stolen passes. ?But, many of the turnovers were for naught, as the E’Hawk defenders were able to deflect several shots and get rebounds to keep the contest under control and protect a 35-31 lead at the end of the third frame.
The near capacity crowd in the Fort Dodge Senior High gym settled in for eight minutes of warfare, The E’Hawks continued to work for their shots, and got lots of inside drives from sophomore Ryan Kliegl, who time and time again split the Knight defense to drive in for buckets.
Emmetsburg would edge out to a eight-point, 41-33 lead with 6:00 to go in the game, but some untimely turnovers would help the Knights whittle away at the E’Hawk lead.
Kuemper began a gradual climb back into the game with 5:00 to go, as they cut the margin to 41-36, and then got Wuebker into more trouble with his fourth foul. The rest of the E’Hawks rallied around their teammate, but the fouls kept coming as the battle raged on.
Cory Schultes was dinged for three fouls, as was Ryan Kliegl, and the Knights would make their free throws, tying the game up at 43-43 with 3:38 to go.
With the issue still in doubt, Kliegl made a bonus shot after being fouled hard to put the E’Hawks back up 45-43 with 2:31 to go, but the Knights tied the game up with 2:17 to go.
The Knights edged out to a 47-45 lead, only to have Kliegl drive to the hole to tie the game again moments later, and after a quick trip down the floor and back, missed the first shot of a two-shot foul, but hit the second to put Emmetsburg up 48-47 with :59 to go.
Kuemper worked the ball down and with :30 to go, put up a shot that missed. Tommy Kuecker grabbed the rebound and was taken to the floor from behind as he passed the ball to Kliegl, but Kuecker was whistled for the foul.
Kuemper got both foul shots for the 49-48 lead, but with :14 to go, Wuebker, playing with four fouls, was hacked on a shots and went to the line, where he made both shots for a 50-49 lead.
Kuemper would drive downcourt and score with :05.2 to go, and the E’Hawks called a timeout with :01.5 to go. A?miss on the shot was rebounded by Kuemper with :00.8 to go and a foul whistled on the E’Hawks, sending Kuemper to the line, where one shot went in.
A desperation full court heave by Cory Schultes banged off the right edge of the rim as the Knights celebrated the 52-50 win, while the E’Hawks waited quietly to offer their congratulations.
For the E’Hawks, Ryan Kliegl would lead the offense with 16 points on the night, while Nick Wuebker added 13. Cory Schultes and Tommy Kuecker both scored eight points in the effort, while Kyle Elbert added three points and Jake Carlson rounded out the effort with two points.