This basketball season has dealt the Emmetsburg E-Hawks more than their share of tough to swallow losses by slim margins.
But as the saying goes, "What goes around comes around."
It finally came around on Tuesday night for Mike Brennan's E-Hawks, as a skyhook shot by Ryan Kliegl with :04.1 to go gave Emmetsburg a 56-55 victory over the vaunted Wolfpack of Western Christian.
As the final horn sounded, the E-Hawks celebrated their one-point triumph over Western Christian. Jake Carlson, left, and Ryan Kliegl react in the foreground as Michael Myers, back left, and Zach Overberg bump near midcourt. --Dan Voigt photo
The win improves Emmetsburg to 9-8 on the year and 4-7 in the Lakes Conference race.
After losing a heartbreaking 56-53 match to the Wolfpack back on Jan. 3, the E-Hawks had looked forward to a change to avenge that loss. With the return of Jake Jackson to the E-Hawk lineup since that loss along with Michael Wolff, Emmetsburg had some unfinished business to address as Tuesday's game began.
The Wolfpack sported an addition to their lineup in the form of 6'11" Mading Thok, who had not faced the E-Hawks in the first meeting. With complete lineups on Tuesday night the rematch promised to be an exciting game.
The two teams would play a very even ballgame from the opening tip, with neither squad being able to get more than a three or five point advantage.
At the end of the first quarter, the E-Hawks held an 18-17 lead, and would battle back and forth with the Wolfpack to cling to a three-point, 30-27 advantage at the intermission.
The third quarter would see the E-Hawks struggle offensively, as they only scored seven points, while Western Christian managed to add 10 points to their tally to tie the game at 37-37 to start the final period.
Both offenses found their base in the final minutes, matching bucket for bucket, with Western able to knock down an occasional trey to tie the score back up.
As the clock wound down, Emmetsburg continued to fight, taking a 52-50 lead with 1:35 to go. But a three by Taylor Feenstra gave the Wolfpack the lead with 1:00 to go at 53-52, only to see Ryan Kliegl beat the defense for a layup with :48 to go and a 54-53 E-Hawk lead.
After a timeout, Western would get a bucket to retake the lead from Mading Thok with :25 to go.
The fans were on their feet as Emmetsburg brought the ball downcourt and set the offense. With the clock ticking down, the ball was knocked out of bounds, with Emmetsburg retaining possession with :14 to go.
The E-Hawk offense reset and began working the ball around, looking for the shot, Kliegl worked his way to the right side of the lane and got a pass. The senior drove across the lane and with a pair of defenders closing to trap him in the corner, Kliegl put up a left handed skyhook over his head toward the hoop. The ball arched over the defenders fell in for the go-ahead score with :04.1 to go.
Western took a timeout to set up a last play, and the final shot barely missed the bucket as the E-Hawks celebrated the 56-55 upset win.
The E-Hawks were led by Kliegl's 14 points and 12 points from Jake Jackson. Jake Carlson, Marcus Akridge and Zach Overberg all added eight points each, with Michael Wolff scoring six point in the win.
Emmetsburg travels to Spirit Lake Friday night.