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Priest River girls capture title

The Priest River girls basketball team topped Kellogg 45-33 in the State 3A final at the Idaho Center in Nampa.

Click the tab below to read my unedited game story.


 

By Greg Lee

Staff writer

NAMPA, Idaho – Gary Stewart couldn’t contain his emotions.

So the Priest River girls basketball coach stepped out of the way and asked assistant coach Katie Bodecker to introduce the Spartans after they captured the school’s first state championship in a team sport Saturday.

Stewart’s Spartans downed Kellogg 45-33 in a well-played State 3A final at the Idaho Center.

“I’m such a cry baby,” Stewart said. “My girls know that anything sentimental and I’m going to start crying.”

Capturing a state title certainly would fall in that category.

It was the first all-Intermountain League final since 2002 when Lakeland topped Priest River. Kellogg was playing in its second title in five years.

And Kellogg appeared as if it might pull off an upset when the Wildcats took a 30-27 lead over the District I-II champs into the fourth quarter.

Moments later, though, the Spartans (19-7) went on a 13-0 run and the separation was all they needed.

“It’s awesome considering my dad’s the coach,” said senior guard Taylor Stewart, who scored 16 points. “I don’t have words that describe how I feel right now.”

Smack dab in the middle of things for the Spartans was IML most valuable player Melissa Hopkins, a 5-foot-9 junior post who had a game-high 17 points to go with 12 rebounds.

Hopkins had 10 points during the Spartans’ fourth-quarter surge.

It was a timeout early in the period that Stewart pointed at as providing a turning point.

“We were starting to get on each others nerves a little bit and I took a timeout and we regrouped,” Stewart said. “We started kind of slow today. We  talked about it at halftime that we need to bring the energy and focus on the next 16 minutes.”

Kellogg (18-9) fought the Spartans for a little more three quarters before they seemed to fatigue.

“We just didn’t have our legs,” first-year Kellogg coach Jeff Lambert said. “It wasn’t our best game tonight and I don’t think we had our legs. We’re only seven or eight deep, as everybody can see, and I think maybe it caught up with us.”

Chelsea Morgan led Kellogg with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Another key contributor for Priest River was guard Tristan Troudt, who had seven steals, six rebounds, five assists and seven points.

Kellogg has much to be proud of considering they upset IML champ Timberlake to even earn a state berth.

“Nobody expected us to even be here let alone be in the championship game so that’s what we’re trying to think about now,” Lambert said. “Overall, second in the state isn’t anything to hang your head over.”


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