High school basketball games are decided by which team has the most points – not by how a team looks getting to the final margin.
In that regard, the visiting Lake City Timberwolves found a way to withstand a furious rally by the Coeur d’Alene Vikings for a 52-50 victory in the 5A Region I boys basketball championship game played before an estimated crowd of 1,800 at Elmer Jordan Court.
Lake City (17-5) advances to state, which begins March 6 at the Idaho Ford Center in Nampa. The T-wolves will open against either Highland or Skyline of Idaho Falls.
Coeur d’Alene (17-4) plays host to Post Falls (14-8) on Saturday to decide a second berth to state. Tipoff is at 3.
Kyle Guice hit a high-arcing 3-pointer at the buzzer ending the third quarter to give the T-wolves a 44-32 lead.
The T-wolves scored as many points in the third quarter (22) as they did in the first half.
Chuckie Adams made a driving layup to give LC its largest lead at 48-34 with 3:17 to go.
But CdA finished on a 16-4 surge, taking advantage of six LC turnovers and poor rebounding by the T-wolves.
And LC made just 3 of 7 free throws in the final 1:02.
“Their press is really good and I think we got conservative trying to hold the lead instead of attacking like we were,” LC point guard Justin Pratt said.
The one free throw that proved key, though, came from Jake Vetsch that put LC ahead 52-48 with 16 seconds remaining.
CdA’s Justin Carpenter made a basket with 3 seconds to go for the final points.
LC coach Jim Winger was disappointed with his team’s lack of composure late against pressure.
“When you get down to money time in a big game like that you can’t get in the fetal position and look back (against the press),” Winger said. “And we looked back the entire time … we’re looking for the easiest thing instead of squaring up and looking forward, not backward. We really got caught on that.”
Guice led LC with 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots. But the 6-foot-6 post fouled out with 1:20 to go after picking up three fouls in a span of 33 seconds.
LC, which played solid man-to-man defense, avoided an epic collapse.
“If my memory serves me, not a lot of teams have won on the road in the (regional) championship,” Winger said.”
CdA’s Justin Carpenter and Colby Daniels made clutch 3-pointers in the final 1:08 to give the Viks a chance. Daniels’ shot looked as if he were shot putting and it came with a defender in his face.
“They showed a lot of resiliency to come back,” CdA coach Kurt Lundblad said. “That run they made in the third quarter, which they’ve done to us a couple times this year, is where we’ve had our hiccups with Lake City.”
Tony Naccarato led CdA with 13 points and nine rebounds.
“They showed why they were expected to win this league and win this district,” Lundblad said.
Winger praised the Viks for battling to the final second.
“They didn’t throw in the towel at the end, and they could have,” Winger said. “They sucked it up and went right at us.”
4A Region I
Moscow 62, Lakeland 51: The Bears (9-11) put three players in double figures to stop the Hawks (14-8) at North Idaho College to earn the region’s lone state berth. Adam Gresch led Moscow with 18 points, Nick Ellison had 17 and Jack Akey added 15. Jake Ram led Lakeland with 15 points.
3A District I
Kellogg 52, Timberlake 45: Behind the 18 points of P.J. Colburn, the Wildcats (13-7) earned a state berth in the championship game at North Idaho College. The Wildcats made 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Timberlake (10-12) was led by the 24 points from Keegan Scott. Timberlake plays host to Bonners Ferry (10-10) in a loser-out game tonight.
Bonners Ferry 60, Priest River 52: The Badgers rallied in the second half to eliminate the Spartans (1-20) at NIC. Wyatt Nelson led BF with 15 points, Cameron Woods had 13 and Josh Pluid added 13. Jimmy Koch scored 25 to lead Priest River.
1A Division I
Lakeside 50, Wallace 46: The Knights (18-4) captured the district title, holding off the Miners (13-8) at Timberlake. Lakeside advances to a play-in game for a state berth Saturday at St. Maries. Doug Schatz led Lakeside with 14 points and Brady Brantley led Wallace with 15.
1A Division II
Kootenai 58, Mullan 36: The Warriors (9-10) were too much for the Tigers (6-10) in the district title game at Timberlake. Kootenai advances to a play-in game Saturday against the District II runner-up at St. Maries to decide a state berth. Jake Pfieffer led Kootenai with 20 points and Anthony Ausman had 16 rebounds and 11 points. P.J. Pacencio led Mullan with 12 points.