It was either a classic comeback or a classic collapse.
That’s probably how half the crowd – representing a city split between two high schools – will remember the Inland Empire League boys basketball opener Friday at Coeur d’Alene High’s Elmer Jordan Court.
The young, senior-less Vikings watched a 15-point lead in the early moments of the second half evaporate. Lake City rallied to force overtime, where the Timberwolves pulled out a 68-63 decision before a crowd estimated at 1,400.
In the opener between the girls teams, No. 1-ranked and defending state champ Coeur d’Alene used defense in the fourth quarter to hold off upstart Lake City 52-40.
Junior point guard Connor White made a wide-open 3-pointer 36 seconds into the third quarter that extended CdA’s lead to 47-32.
The Vikings (3-6) proceeded to commit eight turnovers and didn’t score again in the quarter. LC, using a half-court trap and switching man, inched back into the game. A pullup 8-foot jumper by senior guard Jason Wheelock pulled LC (6-2) within 47-44 with 3 seconds left in the period.
Senior post Nate Frisbie converted a baseline drive to give LC its first lead since the early moments of the first quarter at 51-50 with 5:36 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Chris Wheelock extended LC’s lead to 53-50 with 3:28 to go, but CdA fought back to tie it at 53-all.
Junior guard Devon Austin gave CdA the lead with two free throws at the 1:25 mark, and Jason Wheelock tied it at 55 when he hit a free-throw line jumper 9 seconds later.
Each team got a steal in the final 57 seconds but couldn’t convert, sending the game to overtime.
The 4-minute extra session was back and forth until LC sophomore wing Mark Smyly hit a 3-pointer for a 61-59 lead with 1:29 remaining. It’s a lead the T-Wolves wouldn’t relinquish.
LC made 5 of 6 foul shots in the final 32 seconds to secure a win in a game that could be similar to most games among the IEL’s four 5A teams this season.
Smyly and Nate Frisbie finished with 14 points each and Frisbie had a team-high 10 rebounds.
“Defense really was the key for us,” LC coach Jim Winger said. “Down 15 points against your rival in a hostile environment and to come back and pull it out … I’m real proud of them. As I told them after the game, we’ll never take anything away from this type of victory, but if we want to do the things we want to do and go where we want to go, we can’t check out the first two quarters and then try to rally all the time.”
CdA was a team afire on offense in the first half. The Vikings made 10 of 13 shots – including 5 of 6 from 3-point range – in the first quarter as they opened a 25-16 lead.
The advantage grew to 37-24 in the second quarter before LC used a 9-0 run to pull within 37-32 with 1:38 left before halftime. A 3-pointer and two free throws from White gave CdA a 42-32 lead at intermission.
The turnovers disappointed CdA coach Kent Leiss.
“I think what we showed tonight is even though we’re young we’ve got some talent,” Leiss said. “But we’re immature at times.”
Austin led CdA with 21 points.
Somebody must have forgotten to tell the T-Wolves that the Vikings are ranked 34th in the nation and were coming off an impressive showing in Wilmington, Del.
LC (8-4, 2-3) didn’t back down from the get go, and CdA (13-0, 5-0) had to earn the win in a game much closer than the final margin.
Senior post Katie Baker made two free throws to pull LC within 37-36 with 6:28 to go, but back-to-back steals by Dayna Drager and Kama Griffitts allowed the Vikings to pull away late.
Sophomore post Carli Rosenthal led CdA with 20 points and nine rebounds. Baker, who struggled from the field (4 of 16 shots), had 14 as did sophomore guard Sydney Butler.
“I thought their kids came to play,” CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said.
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