STORM LAKE - It appeared as if the Storm Lake boys were bound for another loss in what's been a rough Lakes Conference play for the Tornadoes, Tuesday night. Spirit Lake had built a 16 point lead midway through the first half and had all the momentum, but the Tornado boys rallied back to take the lead in the fourth. Cluth free throw shooting kept them ahead, and the Indians' desperation three missed its mark as time expired to give the SL boys their third victory of the season.
After Jordan VanDerSloot nailed a three to put the Tornadoes up 3-0 to begin the game, SL quickly fell behind. The deficit was 23-7 deficit midway through the second quarter when the Tornadoes fought back. Sophomore guard Michael McCabe earned three the old fashioned way, and Nolan Cone followed with a basket of his own to make it 23-12.
After making one of two free throws, JB Tut came up with consecutive steals on Spirit Lake inbounds that led to a Cone basket and a basket plus one at the charity stripe for himself to pull SL back to with 31-19 at the break.
The Tornadoes continued to chip away at that lead, and the sophomore Cone knocked down a pair of jumpers, one from deep, to make it 39-36 with two minutes left in the third.
Tut was able to cut the lead to 43-42 with a basket and free-throw, but the Indians countered to push the lead up to 48-42 with five and a half minutes to play. Not to be outdone by his sophomore teammates, Carsen Anderson drilled a three with five minutes to play to pull SL to within three.
On the ensuing possession, Bobby Brown came up with a steal, made the lay-up, and was fouled. The junior sunk the free throw, and the game was even, 48-all at the 4:40 mark.
The Tornadoes then grabbed their first lead since the opening minutes when Carsen Anderson again drilled another three at the 3:46 mark, making it 51-48.
Taylor Anderson sank a pair to make it 53-50 with 2:24 to go. Spirit Lake's Tyler Solsma answered with a lay-up but was unable tie the game on the additional free-throw that sent Tut to the bench with five fouls.
Cone came up clutch again, nailing his pair of free throws to push it to 55-52 at 2:18 in the fourth. Again, Solsma was able to penetrate and draw contact, and again, he struggled at the line, making just one of two attempts as the score sat at 55-53 with 1:15 to go.
It was Carsen Anderson's turn at the line next, sinking both to gain a four point lead with just a minute to play.
Spirit Lake countered with a basket and a steal, but their foul line woes struck again with Solsma making just one of two to push the score to 57-56. Taylor Anderson was sent to the foul line, where he converted one of two, and the Indians' final heave from three clanked off the rim and no good.
For the third straight game, Cone reached double figures, leading SL with 18 points on the night. Tut added 10, McCabe nine, and Carsen Anderson eight.
The win moves the Tornadoes to 3-16 on the season and 2-12 in the Lakes Conference. The boys will look to keep the momentum rolling tonight when they visit LeMars(11-7) for a 6:30PM tip-off. Next Tuesday's matchup with Estherville-Lincoln Central (7-10) marks the end of the regular season for Storm Lake.
The Tornadoes received a tough draw in district play which begins February 23rd. The SL boys will be on the road at top-ranked Sioux City Bishop Heelan.