East Sac County bows out

WEBSTER CITY – One glance at the final score told the unpleasant story for the East Sac County boys basketball team Saturday night.

Falling just one step short of their first trip to Des Moines in program history, the Raiders (18-7 overall) dropped a lopsided 68-39 decision to top-ranked West Fork in a Class 2A, Substate 2 final.

“I hadn’t seen (the Warhawks) play in person before (Saturday), but they were more physical inside than what I thought they would be,” ESC head coach Todd Bontrager said. “Offensively, we just didn’t have very good ball movement and shot it too fast too many times.”

Reed Tellinghuisen, a 6-foot-5 junior, sparked the Raiders once again with 21 points on 8-for-23 shooting. As a team, East Sac County fired at only a 34.1 percent clip from the field.

After staying within striking distance (18-14) through the opening quarter, the Raiders were outscored 19-7 over the next eight minutes and failed to recover. East Sac County, which saw its three-game winning streak snapped, was held to its second lowest offensive output of the season.

Sam Amsbaugh tallied a game-high 28 points and nine rebounds for the unbeaten Warhawks (24-0), while Payton Plagge added 24 points and 11 boards. Five-time defending Corn Bowl Conference champion West Fork shot a blistering 60.7 percent from the floor, making 31 field goals compared to just 15 for the Raiders.

Despite the frustrating loss, East Sac County returns its entire roster next season.

“I’m real proud of our guys, and we took a lot of big steps this year,” said Bontrager. “We’ll probably be ranked in the Top-10 to start next season. We still need to improve our physical strength and develop a low post presence, but we have some young guys that are capable of doing that.”

Next up for the top-seeded Warhawks in the 2A state quarterfinals is No. 8 seed Dike-New Hartford (17-9). Tip is set for 8:15 p.m. on March 4 at Wells Fargo Arena. The Wolverines advanced with a 63-55 upset over eighth-ranked New Hampton.

In its only previous state appearance, West Fork claimed a 2A state title in 2011.