The Le Mars sophomore boys were firing on all cylinders early in their game at Spencer on Tuesday as they raced out to an early 19-point lead. However, the Bulldogs let off the gas pedal in the second half and had to hold off the rallying Tigers for the 54-47 win.
The sophomores dominated Spencer in the first eight minutes of the game on both of ends of the court as they posted a 19-0 first quarter score. However, the Tigers played even with the Bulldogs to close out the half. Each team scored 14 points and Le Mars took a 33-14 lead into half-time.
"We got off to a great start. Our first quarter was outstanding on both ends of the floor," said Bulldog coach Benji Kasel. "We played about as well as we have all year at any stretch in a game."
The second half was a different story for the Bulldogs. The Tigers came out on fire and outscored the visitors 15-7 to pull within 11 making it just an 11 point game heading into the final eight minutes. Le Mars stepped it up offensively in the fourth but couldn't control the Tigers on the defensive end of the court. However, the team played well enough to hold off Spencer in the closing minutes as they posted the seven point win in their last contest of the year.
"After the first quarter, we didn't play with the game intensity or urgency we did to begin the game," said Kasel. "I was disappointed with the way we played in the last three quarters. Maybe my disappointment comes from the fact that in all of our other games this season when we had a team down, we never let them back in the game - this game we did."
The Bulldogs let the Tigers shoot an impressive 8-18 from behind the arc but forced 22 turnovers to hold off Spencer. Paxton Strub and Tanner Dowling led the Bulldogs with three steals each.
Sam VanWettering, Scott Borchers and Chance Grady led Le Mars in scoring as they tied for the team lead with 11 points a piece. Borchers went 5-6 from the field while VanWettering did his damage at the charity stripe knocking down all eight of his free throw attempts. Grady went 6-6 from the free throw line and also added a three-pointer on his way to 11 points.
Dowling and Grady led the team in assists as Dowling dished out six and Grady was close behind with five.
The Bulldogs finish the season with an impressive 17-3 record and showed great promise for Bulldog basketball for the next few years.
"I guess the last game of the year, you want everything to be 'picture perfect,' but the reality is that it is not going to happen," said Kasel. "To win this game was important for us and the kids did that."