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Boise State’s Riley Lupfer takes her game from courts around Spokane to NCAA Tournament

UPDATED: Fri., March 16, 2018, 10:52 p.m.

Nevada guard Camariah King  defends as Boise State guard Riley Lupfer  drives the lane during  the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship  March 9 in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow / AP)
Nevada guard Camariah King defends as Boise State guard Riley Lupfer drives the lane during the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship March 9 in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow / AP)

Riley Lupfer wasn’t looking to be lost and forgotten in her years on the Greater Spokane League basketball courts.

“I wanted to be one of the best to come out of Lewis and Clark,” she said.

She certainly made her mark as one of the Tigers’ top players, earning all-GSL first-team recognition in her last two years at LC.

Now Lupfer is looking to be one of the best to come out of Boise State, and she’s on the right path. Lupfer is in her second season with the Broncos and already has worked into being a starter and one of the main reasons the Broncos made it into the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and fifth time in program history.

In the first round of the tournament Friday, she helped the 16th-seeded Broncos stay within single digits of top-seeded Louisville in the first half. The Cardinals pulled away in the second half to beat Boise State 74-42 on Louisville’s home court in Kentucky.

Lupfer finished the nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, and a steal.

This season, Lupfer helped the Broncos to the top of the Mountain West Conference, averaging 16.2 points in 33 games.

Most of her success on the offensive end comes from 3-point range. Lupfer surpassed the program and conference records for 3-pointers made in a single season this year. She finished with 122 3-pointers this season and shot 46 percent (122 of 265) from beyond the arc this year.

Last month, she passed Abby Vaughan’s Boise State record of 81 3-pointers. On March 6, Lupfer drained five 3-pointers in Boise State’s 60-46 MWC quarterfinal win over Air Force for 113 3s of the season. That eclipsed the conference’s previous single-season record of 110, set by Utah’s Iwalani Rodrigues in the 2010-2011 season.

Her average of 16.7 points while shooting 43.2 percent from the field (16 of 37) in the MWC Tournament last week helped Boise State to its fourth tournament championship. Lupfer’s performance earned her the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Lupfer’s impressive season, especially from 3-point range, earned her a spot on the all-Mountain West team. She tied her season high of seven 3-pointers in four games this year, three of which earned her the conference’s player of the week honor.

Lupfer said her experience playing at LC from 2012-16 gave her the kind of preparation for a Division I-level team. She pointed to the other GSL teams and players such as Gonzaga University junior Laura Stockton, a former standout at Gonzaga Prep, for bringing competition that’s tough to match.

“In Spokane, those 4A schools have some of the best competition you’ll ever play against,” she said. “That competition level happened to push me to be one of the best.”

Lupfer started all four years for the Tigers and worked up to being one of LC’s best shooters. She surpassed 1,000 points career points late in her junior season (2014-15). That year she averaged 16.8 points and six rebounds, earning her a place on the all-GSL first team.

At the end of her senior year, Lupfer was named the GSL Player of the Year and the Spokane Youth Sports Awards Female Athlete of the Year after scoring 349 points to average 20.6 for the season. She helped the Tigers to a 20-8 overall record and led them to a sixth-place finish at the State 4A tournament.

Her success in Spokane and the competition she saw in the GSL prepared her for midmajor competition in the MWC and also for the occasional matchups with power-five teams. Lupfer went up against UCLA of the Pac-12 Conference in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. She tied for the team high of 13 points coming off the bench, including three 3s, in the 83-56 loss to the Bruins.

Friday’s game against Louisville, which topped the Atlantic Coast Conference in the regular-season standings this year, was just as tough as last year. But it was the kind of competition Lupfer likes to see and learn from – the kind the GSL brought to LC’s court.

If there’s one thing she has taken from her experience in the GSL to college play, Lupfer said it’s playing hard and with confidence, no matter who is in front of her.

“You can’t play basketball scared. If you’re scared, I think you’re playing the wrong sport,” she said before the Louisville game. “If you come out scared, you already lost the game.”


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