Bulldogs ice game at free-throw line against Spencer
LE MARS — The final four minutes of Le Mars Community’s 75-69 win over Spencer seemed to drag on for eternity. The Bulldogs held right around a double digit advantage for most of the second half, but could not pull away from a Spencer team which fought to the very end. The Tigers fouled late in the game in hopes that they could climb back into the contest with missed shots by the Bulldogs at the free-throw line, but Le Mars was solid down the stretch as they closed out the win.
“I’m really pleased with the effort from the free-throw line,” Head Coach Dave Irwin said. “As opposed to 51 percent last week, we were 73 and I thought some guys made some big free throws down the stretch.”
Le Mars made 25-of-34 free throws in the game, missing just three of their 22 in the second half.
Spencer closed the gap down to a six point deficit with just over a minute left in the game and had the opportunity to pull to within a possession but a 3-point shot missed the the Bulldogs secured the rebound. Le Mars went to the free-throw line after a timeout and the Tigers answered with a basket to maintain the status quo of a six point margin before time ultimately ran out.
“I thought we did a lot of really, really nice things for three and a half quarters,” Irwin said. “The last four or five minutes of the fourth quarter, we didn’t do a very good job of closing things out. We can attribute a lot of that to our inexperience. It’s part of the whole growth process.”
Alex Irwin, whose swat of a desperation 3-pointer in the final seconds signaled a symbolic end to the contest, finished the night with 24 points to lead the team. Nine of his points came in the first quarter as the Bulldogs turned a 9-8 deficit midway through the frame into a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter as Griffin Garnatz’s half-court heave at the buzzer tipped harmlessly off the front of the rim.
Le Mars pulled away even more through the second quarter and took a 37-26 advantage into the locker room. The team maintained a similar lead most of the rest of the night.
Coach Irwin said the offense took a step forward from their season-opening game.
“We were much better on the offensive end certainly than we were a week ago,” Irwin said. “I think we shot the ball with a little more confidence and I think our guys became a little more comfortable.”
Freshman Karter Petzenhauser led the Tigers with 27 points while Michael Storey added 13 and Gage Garnatz ended with 10.
Along with Irwin’s 24 points, two others finished in double digit for the Bulldogs. Spencer Mackey ended the game with 13 points with eight of those points coming at the charity stripe where he was perfect for the game. Trevor Smith added 11 points and had six rebounds and the same number of assists.
A total of nine players scored in the game for Le Mars with six of the seven players who got to the free-throw line scoring points that way.
Le Mars (1-1, 1-0 Lakes) will hit the road to play Cherokee on Friday. While the Braves were young last year, Irwin says it’s Cherokee who will be the more experienced team this time around.
“They’re going to start a bunch of juniors and guys that have had a lot of experience and guys who have been through kind of what we’re experiencing,” Irwin said. “I expect it to be a quality game and it’s one where anything can happen for either team really.”
Le Mars: Points- Irwin 24, Mackey 13, Smith 11, Westhoff 7, Baumgartner 5, Toki 5, Wurth 4, Dreckman 4, Koons 2