Kent Leiss was pleased to see his team in the zone on Friday night.
More important, Leiss’ Coeur d’Alene boys basketball team found a way around the Lake City zone defense and built a steady lead down the stretch as the Vikings beat the visiting Timberwolves 68-58 in an Idaho 5A Region I game.
With the win, the Vikings (16-6) qualified for the 5A State tournament, while Lake City’s (14-9) season came to an end.
“We had to push the tempo as much as we could because they like to play really slow and do a good job in their zone defense, which they do,” Leiss said.
“We are glad that Lake City and Post Falls started doing that to us back in January, it’s given us a good chance to work on our zone attack and getting some extra shots up.”
Coeur d’Alene senior guard Deon Watson led all players in scoring with 22 points, which included 6-of-10 shooting from the line. Fellow senior Ty Higbie made 9 of 12 free throws and finished with 16 points.
The Vikings scored big points from the perimeter, finishing with nine 3-pointers.
Joe Roletto made four 3-pointers for Coeur d’Alene, Watson and Devon Loy each drained two, and Higbie tossed in one.
“Teams have been zoning us the last seven or eight games and almost daring us to shoot the 3-point shot,” Leiss said. “We came through in that way and I thought that was the key for us.”
Three players from Lake City’s young roster, which could see all but two players return next season, scored in double digits. Kyle Guice finished with 16, Riley Moreen added 15 and Mitch Bevacqua scored 12.
The Timberwolves trailed 44-36 after three periods but cut the deficit to seven points late in the fourth quarter when Moreen nailed a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 37 seconds remaining in the game.
They sent the Vikings to the line several times in the last 4 minutes, which didn’t help the Vikings much as they shot 15 of 30.
“We did a poor job making free throws and that made things a little scarier than I wanted,” Leiss said.
3A District I-II
St. Maries 75, Timberlake 70: The Lumberjacks (19-5) eliminated the Tigers (15-8) at Lakeland High in Rathdrum, earning a state berth.
The Lumberjacks head to Meridian, where the state tournament begins Thursday.