Defense, rebounding push Spartan girls onward

Exira-EHK opens regional play with 64-41 victory

 ELK HORN -- The three-pointers weren’t falling for Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton Tuesday night, but Class 1-A’s second-ranked team did enough other things well to easily pass its first postseason test.
 Shooting 33.8 percent overall and just 4-of-23 from three-point range, the unbeaten Spartan girls compensated by grabbing 21 offensive rebounds and 26 steals in a 64-41, Region 7 quarterfinal win over Griswold.
 Exira-EHK’s fullcourt press keyed a 14-2 start and the margin stayed in double figures the rest of the way - growing to 60-29 after three quarters - as the Spartans improved to 21-0 on the season. They will play at home again Friday night, hosting Sidney (20-3) in a regional semifinal at 7:00 p.m.
 “One of the things we’re trying to get (the girls) to understand is regardless if you’re having an off night shooting, you can still control two things in the game of basketball, which is defense and rebounding,” said Spartan coach Tom Petersen. “That’s what kind of got us over the hump tonight, plus in the second half we made a little bit of a run by finally getting the ball inside.”



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