Spirit Lake overcame a sloppy start with a solid second half and once again rode the coat tails of its defense in a 49-38 victory over Storm Lake in Lakes Conference boys basketball here Tuesday.
It was Storm Lake's eighth straight loss since beating E-LC Jan. 11.
"It wasn't pretty, but we got it done," said Spirit Lake coach John Walz. "We've had four games in five nights and were a little tired tonight, but the guys were still hustling and playing hard. The ball just wasn't dropping early."
Spirit Lake improved to 15-5 overall and 10-5 in the league while clinching at least a share of third place, holding a one-game lead over Le Mars with one game left to play.
"Fifteen wins is a good number," said Walz. "These guys have stepped up in a tough conference and done some good things. Now we want to go down to Emmetsburg and finish the season strong."
The Tornadoes (5-14, 4-10 Lakes) were playing their fourth game in six days. They'll look to get back on the winning track tomorrow night at Le Mars. After that, they play at E-LC Tuesday, Feb. 12, then open postseason play at No. 4 Bishop Heelan Feb. 18.
The Indians opened up a 6-4 lead after the first quarter behind lay-ups from Andy Pringnitz and Scott Maudlin and two free throws from Mason Bergquist.
Storm Lake's Courtney Goodchild connected on a 3-pointer to put the Tornadoes ahead 7-6, but the Indians quickly answered with a hoop on a fast-break by Maudlin. Bergquist and Boomer Dreeszen scored on baskets in the lane to build the lead to 12-9 with 2:55 left in the second before Maudlin drove baseline for an easy lay-in to end the half.
Spirit Lake opened up a 20-9 advantage a minute into the third with a 6-0 spurt, but Storm Lake went on an 7-0 run of its own to pull within 20-16.
Pringnitz scored on back-to-back hoops to build the SL lead to 26-18 while Maudlin and Dustin Lowe added a pair of baskets in the final two minutes of the third to give the Indians a 30-21 edge heading into the final quarter.
The Indians scored the first five points of the fourth to jump ahead 35-21. A minute later, Dreeszen converted a lay-up in the lane to extend the lead to 37-22.
Bergquist put the Indians ahead 40-24 with a 3-point play, but the Tornadoes wouldn't go away easily. AJ Croker scored six of his eight second-half points to cut the lead to 44-34 late in the fourth, but Maudlin made four straight foul shots down the stretch to put away Storm Lake.
Scott Maudlin led Spirit Lake at the offensive end with 16 points. He went 8-of-8 from the free throw line for the Indians who ended up 15-of-28 as a team.
Mason Bergquist added 13 points, five rebounds and four assists while Andy Pringntz tossed in nine points and grabbed five rebounds. Tyler Solsma led the Indians with eight rebounds.
Jesse Munger led Storm Lake with nine points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Carlson added six rebounds and Dak Ngut collected three steals.
Croker (8 points), Carlson (7), Ngut (4), John Blum (3), Goodchild (3), Taylor Anderson (2) and Will Hansen (2) rounded out the scoring for the green and white.
Spirit Lake was 17-for-40 from the field for 43 percent. The Indians held Storm Lake to 15-of-50 shooting for 30 percent. The Tornadoes were also 3-of-13 from 3-point range and 5-of-9 from the free throw line.
The Tornadoes outscored the Indians 12-4 off the bench, but failed to get any players in double figures.
The Indians finished with 29 rebounds, nine assists, nine steals, five blocks and only 13 turnovers. SL won the battle in the paint by a 30-22 margin.
Score by Quarters
Storm Lake 4 5 12 17 - 38
Spirit Lake 6 8 16 19 - 49
STORM LAKE - John Blum 1 0-0 3, Dak Ngut 2 0-0 4, Jesse Munger 4 1-4 9, AJ Croker 3 1-2 8, Taylor Anderson 1 0-0 2, Courtney Goodchild 1 0-0 3, Will Hansen 1 0-0 2, Jordan Carlson 2 3-6 7. Totals 15 5-12 38. 3-Point Goals: Blum, Croker, Goodchild.