The Lewiston High girls basketball team moved within a win of doing something no group of Bengals has done in 19 years – qualify for state.
The task doesn’t get any easier, but Lewiston took a giant step Saturday afternoon by knocking off defending state champ Lake City, 53-46, in a 5A Region I loser-out game at LC.
Lewiston (11-11) makes one more road trip Monday, returning to take on top-seeded Coeur d’Alene (19-3) in a winner-to-state, loser-out game at 6 p.m. The Lewiston-CdA winner will meet No. 1-ranked Centennial (22-1) Thursday when the state tourney unfolds at the Idaho Center in Nampa. Vallivue of Caldwell handed Centennial its first loss Friday, 48-38, in the District III title game.
The Bengals also did something Saturday that they’ve had difficulty doing against the Inland Empire League’s elite teams. They finished.
A putback by freshman forward Tanis Fuller gave the Bengals their biggest lead at 47-40 with 3:07 to play.
LC (14-7) had one last charge left. The Timberwolves – behind a basket down low from junior post Katie Baker, a left-handed scooping layup from Emma Hawn and two Baker free throws – crept within 47-46 with 1:42 to go.
And following a Lewiston turnover, LC had a chance to retake the lead. But the T-Wolves committed their 23rd turnover. Nicole Redd turned a steal into a breakaway layup and the Bengals added four free throws to finally break through.
It was Lewiston’s first regional victory since 2000-01.
“I said early in the year that the North schools just don’t respect us because they haven’t had to,” Lewiston coach Pat Teichmer said. “They weren’t going to respect us until we made them. We knew until we beat one of the Coeur d’Alene schools, nobody’s going to believe that our girls can play. But we knew. They held their poise down the stretch.”
The game was tight throughout. The score was tied at the end of the first quarter (12-12) and at halftime (22-22).
LC managed to stay close despite the fact that the 6-foot-1 Baker was plagued with foul trouble throughout. She ended up playing just 22 minutes, 9 seconds. Still, she scored 12 points to go with 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals.
“The foul trouble on Katie was the key thing in this game,” LC coach Darren Taylor said. “Not to have her on the floor the whole time makes it really tough.”
“Katie getting into foul trouble really hurt them,” he said. “She comes off the floor (and) they can’t match up with our posts.”
Baker carried LC on her shoulders to the state title last year, playing perhaps her three best games at state. She was named the state 5A player of the year.
“It was annoying,” Baker said of the foul trouble. “We had all the weapons we needed (this year), but we didn’t have the mental yet. We were young; we made mistakes. It’s very disappointing, very disappointing, but it just gives me more (incentive) for next year.”
Hawn led LC with 13 points, including three 3-pointers in the third quarter. Redd also had 13 and teammate Kiki Edwards-Teasley scored all 12 of her points in the second half.
Taylor applauded Lewiston.
“Lewiston’s playing really well right now. They won this game,” he said.
Taylor also praised his team for fighting through much adversity this season.
“This was a really hard season. There was a lot of a personal tragedy in our families,” said Taylor, who noted that starting post Amanda Krier played Saturday despite the fact her grandfather passed away Friday. “We never had the continuity going. But our girls, they never played a game where they didn’t give it everything they had.”
•In a 1A District I winner-to-state, loser-out game at Kellogg, Wallace held Clark Fork to four points in the second half and scoreless in the fourth quarter as the Miners topped the Wampus Cats 37-31.
Wallace (6-15) will meet Mackay (16-8) in a state opener Wednesday at Columbia High School in Nampa.
Myranda Wheeler led Wallace with 17 points and three steals. The Miners, who were outrebounded 15-6 in the first half, won the battle on the boards in the second half 23-16.
Wallace trailed 31-22 going into the fourth quarter. The Miners outscored CF (12-11) 15-0 in the final period.
•In a 3A District I winner-to-state, loser-out game at Lakeland, Priest River ran past Bonners Ferry 58-29 to avenge an earlier loss to the Badgers this week.
The Spartans (19-3) will open against the defending state champ, Sugar-Salem (21-3), at 12:15 p.m. PST on Thursday at Middleton High School.
No details were reported.