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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

LC girls hook a win over Vikings

LC's Brittany Bemis drives past CdA's Jackie Lenz to break the Vikings' full-court pressure.
 (Tom Davenport/ / The Spokesman-Review)
Mike Saunders Correspondent

COEUR d’ALENE – The 2005 edition of the Fight for the Fish had just about everything you could ask for in a high school girls basketball game.

Coeur d’Alene had won two straight against crosstown rival Lake City after losing ten in a row. Lake City held as much as a 10-point lead late in the third quarter. Coeur d’Alene almost pulled off a spectacular comeback.

There was also a capacity crowd of 2,700 fans – most of them screaming their lungs out and showing off their spirit.

And, just for kicks, the LCHS gymnasium went pitch-black midway through the first quarter. The power, accidentally cut by a nearby construction crew, came back on after 15 minutes.

When all was said and done, the Timberwolves (9-7) came away with a 46-44 non-league victory over the Vikings (12-3).

Senior post Kristi Tuntland, who only finished with four points but was dominant down low throughout, said the win was particularly pleasing with postseason play just around the corner.

“If you could have been in that locker room, you’d know how excited we are,” said Tuntland, who had two points, three rebounds, two blocks and two assists in the first quarter alone. “It’s kind of like getting over the hump; all we’ve had are losses and losses.”

Tuntland, who had struggled a bit in the teams’ previous two meetings, pointed to the frenzied Fish atmosphere as her key motivation.

“Maybe it was the adrenaline when you play in front of crowds like this,” said Tuntland, who knocked down a pair of key free throws, stretching the lead to seven at 39-32 with just more than 2 minutes to go. “It’s so fun to play in front of this many people; it really gets you pumped up.”

But the lead was short-lived as the Vikings went on a 7-2 run, capped by freshman forward Deanna Dotts’ half-shot, half-tip that cut the lead to two at 41-39 with 1:20 left.

After nearly a minute of scoreless action, senior wing Breanna Sande made a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to four. Dotts followed with a lay-in on a nice feed from sophomore guard Lindsey Stark.

LC senior post Lauren Stern was fouled on the ensuing possession and made two foul shots to stretch the T-Wolves’ lead to four at 45-41 with 15 seconds left.

The young Viks wouldn’t go away, however, as Stark took a pass across the top of the key from freshman point Ali Johnson and hit nothing but net on a 3-pointer that made it 45-44 with 5.4 seconds on the clock.

The Viks fouled Brittany Bemis immediately on the inbounds pass, and the sophomore guard hit the front end of the one-and-one to finish out the scoring.

Stark managed to get off a prayer from nearly halfcourt, but the shot hit the top of the backboard as time ran out.

T-Wolves coach Darren Taylor, who watched his team shoot 17 of 29 from the field, a 58.6 percent clip, explained his game plan coming in and said it was about time some shots started falling.

“Our whole thing tonight was to make good decisions,” said Taylor, adding that his team needed to cut down on turnovers, committing 24 in the contest to CdA’s 14. “To break the press and take the shot if we have it after the press break; if we don’t, we set up our offense.

“And I thought we made a lot of good decisions; if we can cut down the turnovers by about five or six, then I’ll be happy.”

Vikings coach Dale Poffenroth, no stranger to the raucous concept of a spirit competition during a game after several similar experiences against University when he coached Central Valley, said that the atmosphere wasn’t exactly conducive to coaching.

“The game is fine for the student body,” said Poffenroth, also giving plenty of credit to the Timberwolves’ ability to control the tempo of the game in all but the last few minutes. “But you can’t do some of the things you like to do; I talk pretty fast, and I’m not sure the girls could hear what I was saying.

“I was hoping that they were able to read lips; but we did have a shot at the end, so that was something.”

When asked about the fabled “it’s tough to beat a team three times in a row” concept, Poffenroth immediately pointed to the fact that, with 5A Region I play beginning next week, the important games haven’t yet been played.

“We have to try to beat them five times this season,” Poffenroth said. “So the real work is still ahead.”

Stark, on the strength of 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point land, led all scorers with 16 points.