MERIDIAN, Idaho – Sandpoint’s first 4A State Tournament appearance in a decade won’t result in a trip to the state championship game.
But after his team struggled mightily Thursday in a 51-34 loss to Pocatello at Mountain View High, Bulldogs’ coach Bill Bender issued them a challenge.
“I told them that I’m proud of who we are,” Bender said. “We have to understand that it’s a bump in the road. We’ve had bumps before, and the challenge of a day like today is how you respond. So Friday will be a really excellent day, and we are looking forward to it.”
Thursday certainly was not Sandpoint’s day. The Bulldogs (13-8) shot just 25 percent from the floor, while making 3 of 21 3-point shots and 3 of 11 free throws. They also struggled to rebound against the taller, more physical Indians (14-10), who enjoyed a 44-36 edge in rebounds and a 20-8 advantage in second-chance points.
“Size wasn’t the issue,” Bender said. “The issue was our attention to detail. They were good rebounders, but we are excellent defensive rebounders. We simply broke down in our fundamentals.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, Pocatello built a 20-14 halftime lead. The floodgates opened in the third quarter as Pocatello ratcheted up its defensive intensity and began pounding the ball inside on nearly every possession. The Indians scored the first 10 points of the third quarter, holding Sandpoint without a field goal until just 2:42 remained in the period.
By the time the fourth quarter began, Pocatello had the game firmly in hand with a 35-18 lead.
Senior guard Hailey Olin led Sandpoint with 13 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
“It was an honor,” Olin said of playing in the state tournament. “The atmosphere was a pretty cool experience.
“Nobody will forget it, even though the outcome obviously wasn’t what we wanted.”
The state experience continues for both teams Friday. Pocatello advances to play top-ranked Skyview in the semifinals, while Sandpoint plays Burley in a 2 p.m. consolation game at Mountain View.
“We are really looking forward to that opportunity,” Olin said. “We want to prove to everybody that we belong here, because we do. Our goal is to be playing (in the consolation final) on Saturday.”
Idaho 3A State girls
• Katlyn Summers scored 13 points and collected nine rebounds as Priest River cruised past Fruitland 56-34 in an opener at Middleton High School.
Karly Douglas added 12 points for the Spartans. Priest River will face Filer today at 6:15 p.m.
• Allison Kirby scored 14 points as Timberlake defeated Snake River 46-39 in an opener. Alyssa Crumley and Brylie Bair each scored 11 for Snake River. Timberlake plays Homedale tonight at 7.
North Star League
Jordan Meshall scored 14 points and Doug Schatz added 13 as visiting Lakeside defeated Kootenai. Jake Pfieffer tallied a double-double for Kootenai with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Lakeside will take on Wallace in the 1A Division I championship Wednesday at Timberlake. Kootenai will play either Mullan or Clark Fork at Timberlake on Wednesday for the 1A Division II championship. Both championships will be in a best-of-3 format.
Washington Dist. 7 2A
Race Martin had 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists to lead Pullman past visiting Colville 72-45. Matt Hubbard led Colville with a game-high 26 points. Pullman will host Clarkston, a 65-47 winner over West Valley, in the district championship game tonight at 8 p.m. Colville and West Valley, who meet tonight at West Valley at 8:15, need to win two loser-out games to qualify for regionals.