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Sports

Opportunity knocks but Knights don’t answer

CALDWELL, Idaho – When all the missed shots and turnovers are taken away, the bottom line is the Mackay High boys basketball team made the most of its opportunities when it counted the most.

Mackay held off Lakeside 54-48 in a hard-fought State 1A tournament semifinal Friday at Caldwell High School.

Lakeside (23-2) faces Cascade (21-6) for third place this morning at 11:30 PST while Mackay (21-2) and Troy (25-1) will play for the championship this morning.

In the other semifinal, Troy stopped Cascade 51-37.

Mackay 54, Lakeside 48

The Knights, who took fourth place last year, will look back on the semifinal and remember dozens of opportunities they couldn’t convert, particularly in the fourth quarter.

Lakeside took its final lead at 43-41 when Mike Sifford banked in a 9-foot jumper with 6 minutes remaining. But the Knights would be stuck on 43 until an Arthur Elwell basket with 47 seconds to play.

In between, the Knights, who knocked off Mackay in a state opener last year, went 10 straight possessions without scoring, including three turnovers.

“We had opportunities to score and we didn’t score like we should have,” Lakeside coach Stacey Sonder said.

Mackay clinched the win by making 8 of 12 free throws the final 4:17. But the Miners also botched opportunities in the final quarter.

“Every basket, every move, every layup, every shot was hard to work for,” said Mackay coach Randy Nelson. “When you’ve got four tough games to play in a row (at state) you don’t know for sure whether you’ve got the horsepower to get it done or not. The kids stepped it up.”

A free throw by Matt Foster gave the Miners the lead for good at 44-43 with 3:58 to go. But Mackay didn’t score its first basket of the period until Royce Nelson’s 6-footer in the key put the Miners ahead 46-43 at 2:39.

Lakeside took 71 shots from the field, making just 19 (27 percent). The Knights were colder from 3-point range where they managed just 5 of 28 (18 percent).

Knights senior point guard Tim Wolfe took 29 shots, making just six. The usually accurate shooter made just 3 of 17 from 3-point range. He finished with a team-high 19 points.

“It was (42-41) forever it seemed like,” Nelson said of the lead his team had going into the fourth quarter. “Both teams had a hold of shirts and we’re grabbing for everything.”

Sonder couldn’t fault his team’s execution or effort.

“Hey, it was fun. What more can I say?” Sonder said. “We had a good run. We’re still in it. We’re going to try for third. Third’s just as good.

“We battled hard. We’ve come a lot further than we did last year. We were just not fortunate to go to the next stage.”

Knights senior post Elwell played through foul trouble before fouling out with 42 seconds remaining. He finished with 10 rebounds and eight points.

“We knew it was going to be a hard game because they (Miners) fought just as hard to get here like we did,” Elwell said. “We just didn’t make the baskets down the stretch.”

Elwell and Wolfe don’t want to finish the tourney empty-handed.

“We’re coming out to win tomorrow,” Wolfe said. “It’s probably going to be the hardest we’ll play the whole year. This is the hardest thing that’s happened to us the whole season. It hurts the most. But we’re going to play hard tomorrow.”

Nezperce 72, P.F. Christian 61

Dan Luke and Jeff Harris combined for 40 points as the Indians (23-4) eliminated the Eagles (17-9) at Caldwell High.

Nezperce finished 15 of 18 from the line, including a 10-for-11 effort in the first half. Harris hit 7 of 7 from the line and Luke had a team-high eight rebounds.

Brack Adkins led PFC with 22 points and eight rebounds, hitting three 3-pointers and finishing 9 of 24 from the field. Danny Anderson of the Eagles added 10 points and seven rebounds.

PFC shot 32 percent from the floor in the second half, when it was outscored 40-26.

Nezperce will play Notus today for fourth place.

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