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After splitting with Ellsworth during the regular season, the rubber match of the series proved to be a thriller. Tied at half, Southwestern got command of the game in the second half behind torrid shooting and sound defensive play. Nursing an eight-point lead with just under five minutes to play, Southwestern got passive against a tenacious Ellsworth press and saw the lead dwindle. After an offensive rebound on a missed free throw, the Panthers took a late lead. Down 65-64 with 29 seconds to play at 20 seconds on the shot clock, Southwestern made the decision to defend rather than foul. Ellsworth connected on a field goal with 12 second remaining to lead 67-64. Southwestern had two shots at the tie at the end after an Austin Emerson miss was rebounded by Keenan Joiner and kicked back to Emerson for a second try. When the shot hit off the back iron, Southwestern’s season had ended. Head Coach Mike Holmes said, “Our guys executed our plan and we had a tremendous opportunity to win. It hurts more when you feel like you had the game in hand and let it slip away. They are a tremendously talented team and made big plays when they needed them most. I feel our players, once time passes, will reflect and feel like their 14 wins were an accomplishment that symbolizes their competiveness and execution this season.”
The Spartans headed into their final home game of the season with a big task at hand, playing the conference leaders, the Kirkwood Eagles. Looking to notch a second loss in the Kirwood season, the Spartan men played hard takeing a three point deficit into the half, 24-27. Continuing their tough play in the second half, the Spartans stayed within striking distance until the Eagles when on a scoring run for nine points. Final score for the game left left the Spartans on the bottom and the Eagle with a single conference loss for the season.
UPDATE: The Spartans will lead off their post-season play vs. Ellsworth at 7 pm. on Wednesday, March 2. All tournamet pairings and final season standings can be viewed on the ICCAC Web site. Go Spartans!
Not many teams beat Division I Indian Hills on their home floor, and Southwestern, despite a good effort, was no exception in a Tuesday 67-52 loss in Ottumwa. After taking a 25-15 lead, Indian Hills could not put the pesky Spartans away, as Austin Emerson managed to keep Southwestern close going into half, 34-26. The Spartans fired out of the gate in the second half, and with help from two Luke Sealer baskets, cut the lead to 1 at 38-37. From there, the margin bounced between six and two points most of the evening. With three minutes to go and a six-point lead, the Warriors hit an off-balance look with 1 second on the shot clock, forcing the Spartans into a hurry-up mode. Southwestern misconnected on a three-point attempt and then was forced to foul, leading to the final margin. Southwestern is 14-12 overall, and next plays a key conference road game in Mason City against North Iowa Area.
Southwestern showed effects of a long trip to Clinton Sunday, trailing at half by 9 before coming from behind to capture a 69-64 conference win. The Spartans led for most of the first half, and were on top 28-24 when things went downhill. Behind 9 first half offensive rebounds, Clinton went on a 17-2 before half to lead 39-30 at intermission. The Spartans began to methodically claw back into the game, and consecutive three-point goals from Austin Emerson and Luke Sealer gave Southwestern the lead for good at the 3-minute mark of the contest. Collin Artinger connected on another three to up the advantage to four. After a Clinton basket and free throw, Southwestern stopped the Cougars with under a minute to play, and Sammy Duggins made two free throws for a 65-62 lead with 17 seconds to play. Clinton tried a 3 on the next series, but Duggins again grabbed the miss and sealed the game with two more free throws. Southwestern next plays at Division I Indian Hills Tuesday at 7 p.m.