(Photos by Michael Fischer)
It wasn't Spencer's finest game of the season but a second-half comeback with gritty defense and backcourt scoring propelled the Tigers to a 67-60 win Friday night in Spencer.
Matt Finnern scored 19 points (9-of-14 shooting), while Michael Gabhart hit three 3-pointers for a season-high 16 points in the Lakes Conference win. Matthew Klemme scored 15 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds as Spencer improves to 7-1 on the season and 4-1 in conference play.
After Gabhart's first three of the game, Spencer was able to tie the game at 22 and finally take its first lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. Tiger turnovers would allow Storm Lake to lead at halftime, however, 30-27.
"We knew Storm Lake likes to get out fast. They jumped out on Sioux City East 16-1 the other night," Spencer coach Kory Petzenhauser said. "We looked a little sluggish to start the game. I'm not sure if we anticipated their physical toughness. In the second half we did a better job of doing the things that win you ball games -- defending and rebounding."
Spencer regained the lead midway through the third quarter and wouldn't trail again. They outscored Storm Lake 19-12 in the third period.
Ethan Kenkel showed off a variety of skills inside the paint as well as some distance shooting and finished with a game-high 25 points. The senior was 11-of-17 from the field including a 3-pointer, six rebounds and three assists.
Spencer had a pronounced advantage at the free throw line as Storm Lake continued to foul in the second half. The Tornadoes finished with 28 fouls in the game, including two players fouling out and three others with four fouls. Seaman was whistled for three in the first quarter.
Despite 36 attempts, Spencer hit just half from the free throw line. The missed attempts didn't hurt on this night as Spencer did enough to stay in the race atop the Lakes standings.
"The kids did a nice job of continuing to push. We battled and made enough plays to get the win," Petzenhauser said.
The Tigers are currently tied for second with Le Mars at 4-1 and trail Western Christian (5-0 Lakes), who they play at Hull on Friday, Jan. 4, the first game after the break.
|Storm Lake 16||14||12||18||--||60|
SPENCER: Matt Finnern 19, Michael Gabhart 16, Matthew Klemme 15, Blake Altenhofen 8, Tanner Morris 6, Nigel Nielsen 3.
STORM LAKE: Ethan Kenkel 25, Jay Grant 10, Aaron Krier 9, Nic Seaman 9, Yach Deng 6, Geoff Converse 1.
TEAM STATS: FG - Spencer 23-48, Storm Lake 23-58. 3PT - Spencer 3-12, Storm Lake 5-20. FT - Spencer 18-36, Storm Lake 9-14. Rebounds - Spencer 39 (Klemme 18), Storm Lake 25 (Kenkel, Grant 6). Steals - Spencer 8 (Finnern 3), Storm Lake 8 (Krier 5).