(Photos by Michael Fischer)
The Spencer girls gave No. 3-rated Estherville Lincoln Central a run for its money Friday night. The Lady Tigers led at halftime and were in a tie game with three minutes to play, but the Midgets would put them away down the stretch in a 37-29 Lakes Conference win.
The first half was very even as the game was tied at 7-7 after one period and Spencer took a 17-14 lead on an Alexa Allen buzzer beater to end the half. The Lady Tigers were 4-of-5 from three in the first half.
"It was our best defensive effort of the season," Spencer coach Don Martindale said. "For 29 minutes, we were even with the No. 3 team in the state. It just got away from us at the end with some turnovers. Before we can take the next step and get wins against very good teams, we have to be mentally tougher down the stretch and execute."
Friday's game was a far cry from the first meeting in Estherville on Dec. 7 when the Midgets coasted in a 71-37 victory with Allie Sievert scoring 27 points. The Spencer defense shut down Sievert Friday as she finished 0-4 from the field and was held scoreless. Sievert was also in foul trouble much of the game and picked up her fourth with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.
ELC got a monster game from Emily Kirchner, who did everything for the Midgets including scoring a game-high 26 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made three steals. The senior was 9-of-18 from the field and 8-of-11 from the line.
"We've got to give credit to ELC - they're a very good team," Martindale said. "People got to see what a great competitor Kirchner is tonight. We're certainly a better team now than our game up there. Our energy and effort was great, we just have to keep improving."
Kirstin Martindale scored 10 points, grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds and blocked two shots in the loss. Heather Williamson also scored 10 and grabbed five boards.
ELC improves to 14-2 on the year (losses to MOC-Floyd Valley and Western Christian) and 8-1 in the conference. Spencer is now 9-6 overall and 5-4 in the Lakes. Spencer will host Emmetsburg Tuesday night.
SPENCER: Kirstin Martindale 10, Heather Williamson 10, Alexa Allen 6, Kari Kramer 3.
ELC: Emily Kirchner 26, Sara Heywood 6, Macy Dahl 3, Casey Sievert 2.