Its mascot may be a Bulldog, but the Sandpoint High School boys basketball team would rather be known as the Underdogs.
In keeping with its late-season turnaround, Sandpoint played well from start to finish Tuesday, easily dismissing the Coeur d’Alene Vikings 73-52 in an A-1 loser-out playoff game at Viking Gym.
“Winning tonight was beyond people’s expectations,” Sandpoint coach Jack Dyck said. “Everybody expected us to come down here and lose.”
Everybody, that is, except the Bulldogs.
Sandpoint, which raised its record to 6-15 overall, moves into the double-elimination round of the Region I Tournament on Thursday. The Bulldogs go to Inland Empire League champion and No. 1 seed Post Falls (17-3). In the other regional opener, No. 3 Lewiston (13-7) visits No. 2 Lake City (12-8). Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
In a game at Post Falls last week, the Bulldogs took the Trojans to overtime before losing 71-61.
Thursday’s winners advance to the regional title game on Saturday at Post Falls.
Coeur d’Alene ends its first season under Larry Bieber at 3-18, the worst record in the 86 years the school has played basketball. The mark moved ahead of the previous worst record of 4-18, which was posted by coach Don Haynes’ first team in 1988-89.
Bieber admitted his team came into the game overconfident. He said the Viks were looking past Sandpoint to playing at Post Falls.
Sandpoint never let the Viks get into the game Tuesday.
The Bulldogs opened a 12-0 lead before CdA guard Chris Pederson scored the Viks’ first basket, a 3-pointer, at the 2:45 mark.
Sandpoint’s one-two punch of senior post Brian Trenholm and senior point guard Dallas Spielman played well. But it was the supporting cast of Jared Herrington, Dean Buckmaster and Carson Jeffres that provided a big spark.
Trenholm and Spielman each scored 10 points in the first half, but the other starters combined for 18 points as the Bulldogs got out to a 38-28 lead by halftime.
Twice CdA cut the lead to six points in the first half, but the Bulldogs quickly pushed the margin to 10 on both occasions.
CdA got within seven points early in the third quarter, but Sandpoint’s hot shooting and sound defense started to wear on the Viks. A 3-pointer by Spielman and a baseline jumper by Buckmaster put Sandpoint ahead 45-31. Two minutes later, a fastbreak basket by Jeffres gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead in the third quarter at 52-34.
Two Viks baskets, though, cut the lead to 52-38 going into the fourth quarter.
It didn’t get any closer the final 8 minutes.
Trenholm led Sanpoint with 19 points, Spielman had 17 and Buckmaster and Herrington had 14 each. Dyck played his starters all but a few seconds of the game.
Pederson led CdA with 20 points.
Sandpoint’s play Tuesday was a dramatic turnaround from its first league game at CdA on Jan. 27, when the Viks hammered the Bulldogs 69-53.
“That was the turning point in our season,” Dyck said. “We got tired of being humiliated. That was definitely the lowlight of the season. We’ve learned to compete. We weren’t doing that earlier; we were kind of (losing) with our tail between our legs.”
Bieber expected the Viks to win.
“To be truthful I thought we’d handle them tonight,” Bieber said. “They outplayed us in every phase of the game. We’re not very good when we get behind.”
Sandpoint 73, CdA 52
Sandpoint 19 19 14 21 - 73
Coeur d’Alene 10 18 10 14 - 52
SANDPOINT Herrington 14, Buckmaster 14, Jeffres 7, Luce 2, Spielman 17, Evans 0, Trenholm 19, Smith 0, Love 0.
COEUR D’ALENE Adamen 4, Clute 0, Coppess 3, Corbeill 5, Davis 2, Doerr 0, Fink 6, Hermstad 0, Hoorelbeke 4, Klassen 4, Pederson 20, Stewart 4, Wild 0, Zimmerman 0.
Lakeside 89, Falls Chr. 77
At Post Falls, James Twoteeth scored 10 of his 30 points in the first quarter and Dan Montague had nine of his 27 in the second quarter as the visiting Knights (3-4, 11-8) defeated the Eagles (4-3, 10-8).
Lakeside shot 35 of 62 (56 percent) from the floor. For Falls Christian, Josh Erk scored 16 of his 29 in the fourth quarter, Adrian Cushman scored 20 and Jared Horton had 12 rebounds.
Lakeside 27 15 23 24 - 89
Falls Christian 12 15 22 28 - 77
LAKESIDE Twoteeth 30, SiJohn 14, Montague 27, Lamburt 1, Nelson 13, Meshell 4.
FALLS CHRISTIAN Cushman 20, Erk 29, Gelnette 13, McKee 2, Horton 13, Mullan 0, Allen 0.
Bonners Ferry 58, Priest River 50
Benson LaRue, Jesse Holeski and Gavin Glindeman combined for 41 points as the Badgers (9-1, 16-4) beat the Spartans (5-4, 8-10).
Bonners Ferry 14 24 7 13 - 58
Priest River 12 7 14 17 - 50
BONNERS FERRY Walter 0, Gravelle 9, Glindeman 11, High 2, Holeski 14, Hubbard 0, LaRue 16, Ashby 2, Stewart 4.
PRIEST RIVER Score 2, York 16, Rabe 17, Schaefer 0, Trost 9, Walters 2, Mohr 4.
Lakeland 54, Lake City 12
At Rathdrum, the Hawks had seven pins in a win over the visiting Timberwolves.
Lake City’s John Conner (189 pounds) had a 5-4 win with an escape and takedown in the final 18 seconds.