NAMPA, Idaho – The Coeur d’Alene girls basketball team didn’t play its sharpest game Thursday, but the Vikings were plenty good enough to survive and advance at the 5A State Tournament.
Senior forward Brittany Tackett scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Coeur d’Alene used its poise and experience to overcome cold shooting in a 57-48 opening-round victory over Hillcrest at the Ford Idaho Center.
Senior post Sydney Williams added 14 points for Coeur d’Alene (21-2), which faces Mountain View (18-5) in a 5:15 p.m. semifinal today.
“I didn’t understand why we were shooting (so many 3-pointers),” said Coeur d’Alene coach Dale Poffenroth, whose team finished 1 for 17 on 3-point shots. “We needed to go to our big kids to make it work, and they did a good job. But it’s the state tournament, and it’s a win.”
Both teams relied upon strong inside play in the early going. Tackett scored 11 first-half points and Williams added nine as the Vikings missed all ten of their 3-point attempts.
Hillcrest’s frontcourt countered – led by sophomore Lindsay Cook’s eight points – as the Knights kept it close. Coeur d’Alene led 23-21 at halftime despite forcing eight turnovers without committing one.
“We knew it was going to be tough, especially in the first half,” said senior guard Madison Sumner, who had 11 points and five assists. “But we knew if we kept running the floor in the second half, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with us.”
Sumner finally connected on a 3 to open the second-half scoring, a shot that seemed to spark the Vikings. Coeur d’Alene quickly built a seven-point third-quarter lead, an advantage the Vikings were able to maintain by feeding Tackett and Williams inside, taking care of the ball (four total turnovers) and making free throws down the stretch.
“Coeur d’Alene has been here, they’ve won championships,” said Hillcrest coach Cody Jackson, whose team is making its first state appearance since 2008. “That experience definitely pays off.”
Tackett battled foul trouble, but Kyli Matheson and Emily Callahan provided valuable minutes off the bench, allowing her to finish the game.
“You want to be out there, but it’s nice to know your teammates are ready to go if you do get in foul trouble,” Tackett said.
Cook finished with 14 points for Hillcrest (20-5), while junior guard Makell Skidmore added 13. But it is the Vikings who advance, hungry for their first championship since their three-year title run ended in 2010.
“We have six seniors, and we know what we want to do,” Sumner said. “We came here for one reason, and that’s to win a state title.”
• Lewiston 45, Boise 40: In a game where offense was at a premium, junior forward Emilee Schlader scored 17 points to lift the Bengals past the Braves and into the semifinals.
Lewiston (21-3) will play Rocky Mountain (23-1) at 7 p.m. today.
Brittany Weeks added eight points for Lewiston, which survived a slugfest against well-balanced Boise.