Lind-Ritzville got an early scare from the Seattle Lutheran Saints Wednesday night in a first-round State 2B tournament game at the Spokane Arena.
Blame it on the jitters. This was the Broncos’ first tournament appearance in five years – before any of the current players were even in high school.
The Broncos recovered about as quickly as they fell behind, however, and knocked off the Saints 59-24.
Seattle Lutheran, making its first showing in the tournament since 1999, surprised the Broncos as it jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Lind-Ritzville head coach Randy Heidenreich quickly called a timeout.
“I knew we had the first-game jitters, we ran into that a little bit at regionals, too,” Heidenreich said. “I told the team we need to slow it down and settle down.”
The Broncos took a collective breath and found their rhythm.
Sophomore Emmy Bouwman nailed a 3-pointer with 3:44 left in the first frame and ignited a 19-0 run that put the Broncos ahead for good.
“We weren’t focused,” Bouwman said of the lackluster start. “Usually we start out strong.”
Bouwman finished the game tied with Devon Killian for the team high with 12 points.
During the run, Lind-Ritzville received contributions from a number of players. Heidenreich noted that the Broncos are built on a balanced offense.
“We can’t count on one person,” Heidenreich said. “We don’t have anybody averaging in double figures.”
Seattle Lutheran’s speedy point guard Stephanie Antioquia scored five of the Saints’ first seven points and started the game with an NBA-range 3-pointer to beat the shot clock. Antioquia finished with a team-high 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Barbara Lisko and Kimmie Smart added four points each for Seattle Lutheran.
“A lot of the scout stuff we had said make her (Antioquia) go left,” Heidenreich said. “We didn’t give her a lot of open looks.”
Laura Cain performed well for the Broncos. Cain shot 4 of 6 from the field for nine points and she grabbed three boards.
“I think we worked well together,” Cain said. “I think we had a good, balanced game tonight.”
Cain mentioned that the atmosphere was a little intimidating to the first-time tournament participants.
“I don’t think we had our heads in the game,” Cain said.
Lind-Ritzville dominated the boards against the undersized Saints. The Broncos outrebounded Seattle Lutheran 48-26. Sophomore Kelsey Arlt led Lind-Ritzville with seven rebounds. Maddy Williams had five boards for the Saints.
Offensive rebounding was a key for the Broncos. Lind-Ritzville had 26 offensive boards compared to five for Seattle Lutheran.
“We didn’t hit a lot of perimeter shots, but the inside people were able to get some offensive rebounds and close shots,” Heidenreich said.
A slew of Broncos had three offensive boards which were converted into 24 second-chance points.
Lind-Ritzville also relies on something a lot of small-school high school teams don’t have – depth. The Broncos had 12 players see time on the court and nine scored points, including 42 points from non-starters. Their depth allows them to push the tempo if needed.
“We don’t push the ball much, but we push it enough to make the other team work,” Heidenreich said.
Defense also helped Lind-Ritzville put points on the board. The Broncos converted 25 Seattle Lutheran turnovers into 27 points.
Thanks to the win, Lind-Ritzville gets a little extra rest. The Broncos are slated for today’s 9 p.m. game against Mossyrock.
“It helps to have time to figure things out,” Cain said.
It appears the jitters are all gone for the Broncos.
“It was a good team effort,” Bouwman said. “We were all nervous, but we pulled together.”
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