LeMARS - Dreams die hard.
For Emmetsburg's E-Hawks, the dreams of a state basketball tournament trip were crushed Tuesday night in a 44-35 loss to Sioux Center. The Class 2A District final loss capped off a great season for Coach Mike Brennan's ballclub, whose late-season eight-game winning streak gave them a record of 15-9 to close out their campaign.
The loss signals the end of great prep hoops careers for six seniors - Jake Carlson, Ryan Kliegl, Zach Overberg, Marcus Akridge, Michael Wolff and Brady Berkland.
E-Hawk Ryan Kliegl flies in for a shot against Sioux Center’s Travis Vermeer in Tuesday’s District Tournament game at LeMars. --Dan Voigt photo
"This was a great group of seniors who gave us great leadership on the floor,"?noted Head Coach Mike Brennan. "They will be missed."
Emmetsburg entered Tuesday night's District Final with plenty of optimism, after two good District Tourney wins.
As the contest began, Sioux Central would take an early lead of 5-2, but a three-point shot from Jake Jackson with 2:58 to go in the first quarter tied the game at 5-5 as both offenses struggled to get into some semblance of a flow.
Sioux Center, with a decided height advantage at most positions over the E-Hawks, was able to come up with two more baskets in the final 2:30 of the opening quarter to post a 9-5 lead to start the second quarter.
The E-Hawks would continued to struggle for couple of possessions against the Warriors' defense, which managed to steal some passes, but Emmetsburg wouldn't give up. After the Warriors had taken a 13-9 lead with 6:00 to go in the half, the E-Hawks found their shooting touch.
The ball began to fall through the cylinder as Emmetsburg slowly crawled back into the defensive standoff, and would go on to tie the game at 15-15 to go into the halftime break.
Emmetsburg had to feel good going into the locker room, after outscoring Sioux Center by a 10-6 margin in the second quarter, but there was plenty of basketball remaining to be played.
The E-Hawks rode their wave out of the second quarter to take a brief lead to start the third quarter at 22-19 with 5:32 to go in the quarter after Jake Carlson was fouled on a bucket and added the free throw for the three-point play.
But Sioux Center would come back, and slipped past the E-Hawks for a 25-23 lead with 3:09 to go in the quarter off a three-point bucket. A free throw for the Warriors in the closing minute of the third quarter would give them a two-point, 26-24 advantage over the E-Hawks.
As the final quarter started, the E-Hawks found the going a little tougher, as Sioux Center was collapsing into the lanes, denying passed and shooting opportunities for the E-Hawks.
With the pressure of the Warriors making inside shots almost impossible, the E-Hawks tried the outside, but found their shooting touch going cold.
With 6:37 to play in the contest, Michael Wolff hit a bucket and added a free throw on a foul to break an E-Hawk scoring drought to make the score 27-28, putting Emmetsburg back in striking distance.
But, Sioux Center would counter with a three-pointer, and then off a steal, got a bucket and a free throw to build their lead to seven points, 34-27 with 4:42 remaining in the contest.
The Warriors would get another bucket as the E-Hawks struggled with rebounding.
Marcus Akridge would get a bucket with 3:30 to go for a 28-36 score, but late buckets by Wolff would be too little too late.
Michael Wolff would lead Emmetsburg with 16 points, while Marcus Akridge added six points. Ryan Kliegl and Zach Overberg both scored four points each, with Jake Carlson adding three points and Jake Jackson scoring just three points,
The E-Hawks would make 14 of 32 shots from two point range and just one of 16 tries from the three, while Sioux Center had 10 of 18 from inside the arc and three of 12 outside the arc. The difference was at the line; Emmetsburg made four of six free throws and Sioux Center connected on 15 of their 18 shots.