"It's exciting. I'm glad we didn't go to overtime," said Storm Lake head coach Bob Grant. "Looked like it might be four in a row. When we needed a stop late in the game, we got it. He (Nic) knew he was going to catch and shoot, and what a great shot it was."
The Tornadoes started the fourth quarter down eight, but threes from Nic Seaman and Aaron Krier gave them a 46-44 lead with 3:30 left to play. Nigel Nielsen answered with a three for the Tigers. A Kuony Deng basket reclaimed the Tornado lead before Matt Finnern answered with a 1-for-2 trip at the line to tie it for Spencer.
Storm Lake had a chance at the last shot with 35 seconds left, but Finnern picked Krier's pocket to regain possession. The Tigers put the ball in the hands of their star post player, Matt Klemme, but Ethan Kenkel provided strong man-to-man marking and forced an over-and-back call with 13 seconds left. Spencer burned a foul when Kenkel got the ball down low with four seconds left, before Seaman knocked down the dagger from the corner at the buzzer.
The Tornadoes opened the game on an 11-0 run, keyed by threes from Geoff Converse and Seaman, but the Tigers fed Klemme down low to close the quarter with eight straight.
Spencer continued to capitalize down low to grab a 26-24 lead at half. Storm Lake got Kenkel off the perimeter and on the block in the second half as they battled back from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter.
"They started beating us to some spots and contested shots," said Grant. "It's a game of runs. We weathered the storm. We had a lull in the game, but we really competed the whole game. We had a lot of kids make some big contributions. That's really got to spark us as we go on here in district play."
Seaman and Kenkel turned in 15 points apiece to lead the Tornadoes. Deng followed with nine points as the Tornadoes improved to 8-8 overall with their third straight win. They sit at 7-5 in the conference, one game behind the Tigers at 8-4 (11-6 overall).
Finnern led Spencer with 17 points, and Klemme totaled 15.
Storm Lake hits the road Friday night to take on Cherokee. They visit the Lakes Conference's second place team, LeMars, Tuesday in their final league contest. THey close with games against South Central Calhoun, Sioux City West and Humboldt.