Le Mars head coach Barry Borchers simply lost track of time Tuesday evening, what with lining up workers and volunteers for the Lady Bulldogs' Class 3A regional final against Spencer Saturday at Sheldon, then watching videotape of a recent Lady Tigers' basketball game with his assistant coaches.
Never mind that the 18-5 Lady Bulldogs whipped Spencer in their second meeting by 25 points. It's the first meeting that has him worried, a nip-and-tuck affair which the Lady Bulldogs pulled out, 46-40.
"(Spencer) They've played really well the last few games," said Borchers. "We know it's going to be a tough game, but it's one we know we can win if we just play our game."
The Le Mars basketball think tank, you see, isn't taking anything for granted, although the Lady Bulldogs are on a gaudy winning streak after a slow start to 2001-02. If they pay attention to the X's and O's, they hope, the Lady Bulldogs will have a 'W' instead of an 'L' Saturday and their first berth in the girls' state basketball tournament in school history.
The least of their worries is a resilient bunch of seniors who have fought off adversity to post the best single-season winning mark at Le Mars. Amber Arens is among the leading shot blockers in the state, although she missed the first three games of the season due to a shoulder injury. Guard Betsy Beach has been playing the best basketball of her prep career over the past three weeks. And Katy Grady, Laura Reuter, Dana Lehner and Callie Ohm have all exhibited a penchant for hitting the crucial shot, snaring the must-have rebound, or making the key defensive stop.
"I think all six of them are playing the best basketball they've ever played," said Borchers. "Their goal was to get to Des Moines and it's really inspired their play."
Yet, Borchers said, although the Lady Bulldogs have been improving each game, they didn't put together a complete package until their regular-season finale, a romp over Estherville-Lincoln Central.
"I think, except for the first two minutes against Heelan," said Borchers, "we played an excellent game there as well."
Spencer is led by Katie Grave, Heather Brown and Amy Lawson. Grave, said Borchers, is probably Spencer's best outside shooter. "She'll look for that open three," said Borchers.
Brown will be on counted on by the Tigers to penetrate the Lady Bulldogs' defense, while Lawson is an aggressive player who does a number of things well.
Borchers said Spencer might try to vary its usual gameplan to deal with Arens, who blocked 15 shots against Heelan.
"Amber is the key to the way we play defense," said Borchers. "I would be surprised if Spencer tries to approach it a little bit differently."
The most important part of Borcher's job will be keeping his players fixed on the task at hand -- a victory against Spencer, which has reached a district final for the second time in three years.
"We want to keep them focused on the next game," said Borchers. "That's what we've stressed all year long, one game at a time. If we concentrate on the things we do well, we'll be fine."