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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sandpoint falls

The Sandpoint boys basketball team ran out of magic in the second half of its 4A state semifinal Friday.

Priest River also stumbled in a 3A semifinal.

Click the tab below to read my unedited game story.

By Greg Lee

Staff writer

BOISE – The Sandpoint High boys basketball team’s first state trophy will have to come a different route.

The Bulldogs’ defense and offense broke down at a critical juncture Friday, and the Pocatello Indians took advantage, 53-45, in a State 4A tournament semifinal at Borah High School.

Sandpoint (10-15) will play for third this morning against Jerome (23-3). Tipoff is at 10.

Pocatello (14-14) takes on No. 1-ranked Skyview (25-0) in the title game. Skyview topped Jerome 64-55.

Pocatello 53, Sandpoint 45: The Bulldogs controlled the first half, forcing the Indians to take shots they’re uncomfortable taking – from the perimeter.

The game changed in the second half. It was partly due to better defense and partly due to better shot selection.

The Bulldogs didn’t help themselves, either, finishing with 20 turnovers.

“You’re not going to be too successful doing that,” Sandpoint coach Tyler Haynes said. “Pocatello deserves all the credit. They fouled a lot early and they moved their feet better in the second half. They stopped our penetration and we had some bad possessions.”

Many of those poor possessions occurred in the final six minutes. Sandpoint’s Spencer Swerin took a long pass from Tanner French on the fastbreak for a breakaway layup, giving the Bulldogs their last lead at 40-39 with 6:26 remaining.

Sandpoint didn’t score another basket until Swerin got inside with 1:41 to go, pulling the Bulldogs within 46-43.

Pocatello made 7 of 12 foul shots in the final 1:23 to hold off Sandpoint.

“We got into pretty good position to finish off that game,” Haynes said. “It was for a lack of effort. They (the Indians) played really well. and they made the defensive stops that needed to be made.”

Sandpoint had difficulty stopping Michael Decker inside in the second half. He finished with a game-high 18 points.

Pocatello made a concerted effort to go inside the final two quarters.

“That was the bulk of our conversation at halftime.” Pocatello coach Lee Ralphs said. “I thought we were way too impatient against that zone. We rushed some things and forced some bad passes. We said (at halftime) calm down and get the ball inside more … make a few extra passes and things will go our way.

That’s what happened.”

Stefan Buratto led Sandpoint with 14 points and French and Swerin each had 12.

“We did things we needed to do to score,” Haynes said. “We just couldn’t turn the corner on them.”

Haynes is pleased his team can still finish with a win.

“It’s fine to be disappointed,” he said about the loss. “I can’t be more proud of a group of kids than I am right now. I’m just happy as hell to get a chance to play again. I get one more night with these guys. We’re going to go and enjoy (today).”

Ralphs praised both teams.

“No one even thought us and Sandpoint would be in this situation because we both came in with sub .500 records,” Ralphs said. “That’s a quality ballclub. They play a lot like us.”


Priest River didn’t have an answer for the Shelley Russets in the State 3A tournament semifinals.

Shelley outscored the Spartans 38-19 in the first and third quarters combined as they pulled away 56-41 at Meridian High School.

Priest River (19-2) will take on Sugar-Salem (23-4) for third today at 10. Shelley (16-11) will meet defending champ Fruitland (22-2) in the title game.

St. Maries survived a nailbiter, topping Snake River 57-55 in a loser-out game. The Lumberjacks (18-5) will take on Filer (17-8) for fourth place today.

Shelley 56, Priest River 41: The Spartans fell in a hole early and were never able to climb out.

Jake Weimer led the Spartans with 17 points. Teammates Max Salesky and Eric Holbrook added 12 each. Mason Higham led Shelley with 22.

St. Maries 57, Snake River 55: The Lumberjacks dropped a heartbreaker the night before in overtime and they were staring at another difficult finish Friday.

Before Matt Corsi stepped up and got a key steal with two seconds left to preserve St. Maries’ win and put the Lumberjacks in a trophy game for the first time in 10 years.

Jake Mercer hit a leaning 9-footer with the clocking winding down and was fouled, breaking a 54-54 tie. In the ensuing celebration, though, Marc Grubham left St. Maries’ bench and sprinted onto the floor to mob Mercer. The extra player on the court necessitated a technical foul.

First, Mercer made the free throw, putting St. Maries ahead 57-55. But the Panthers made just one of the two technical shots.

That’s when Corsi got the steal at midcourt to secure the win.

Adam Corsi led the Lumberjacks with 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. His brother, Matt, had 10 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

1A Division I

Wallace 70, Cascade 50: The Miners will play for fourth place today after they bounced back with a runaway win.

Jared Bilaski led the Miners (16-7) with 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Nick Arthun had 14 points and Clancy Drews added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Wallace, which took fourth last year, will play Wilder (21-4) for the same trophy.


Greg Lee
Greg Lee joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a prep reporter covering Eastern Washington and North Idaho schools.

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