It was a smile of relief.
Sure Lakeland boys basketball coach Dave Stockwell was overjoyed to see his team break a state tournament drought. But it was definitely a stress-relieving smile.
Lakeland is headed to the State 4A tournament, its first trip to state since the Hawks qualified in their final year in the 3A ranks in 2004. Or to bring it closer to home, the Hawks’ eight seniors were in first grade the last time Lakeland ventured south.
The Hawks outlasted the Sandpoint Bulldogs 38-29 in a defensive slugfest in the Region I championship Wednesday at North Idaho College.
Second-ranked Lakeland (16-6) opens against District III runner-up Mountain Home (17-7) March 5 at Borah High School in Boise.
Sandpoint ends its season under first-year coach Kent Leiss at 8-14.
Lakeland 38, Sandpoint 29: Ignore the low score. The game was full of entertainment – especially defensively.
Sandpoint used seemingly every defense known to man in trying to contain Lakeland standout point guard Tyrel Derrick. The Bulldogs were effective, limiting Derrick to nine points.
Other Hawks stepped up. Slader Ray led with 12 points.
“They threw everything in the book at us,” Stockwell said. “We had to make some adjustments, and the second half wasn’t real pretty offensively. I thought our defense was outstanding overall.”
Derrick was fighting back tears afterward.
“This has been 17 years in the making, and for the past 12 years I’ve been waiting for this to happen,” Derrick said. “It’s a weight off my shoulders that I can’t explain.”
Derrick praised Sandpoint’s defense.
“They did a great job preparing,” he said. “That’s the best anybody has probably played us all year as far as knowing what we’re running. Coach Leiss did a great job.”
Sandpoint struggled mightily all season offensively, and those woes continued Wednesday.
“We needed to knock Tyrel out of his rhythm. I thought we did,” Leiss said. “Our biggest problem was trying to rebound out of the different zones we were playing.”
3A District I
Kellogg 53, Bonners Ferry 39: No wonder the Wildcats’ senior point guard Gus Colburn was honored after the game as the Intermountain League’s most valuable player.
With his team trailing 16-11 after the first quarter, Colburn took over.
He scored 12 of his game-high 26 points in the second period as the No. 1-ranked Wildcats took control on their way to the district title at North Idaho College.
“They were a little amped up,” Kellogg coach Jeff Lambert said. “There’s a lot of pressure. We’re used to being the underdogs, not the guys that are 19-3. We don’t like being the hunted. We like being the hunters.”
Well, like it or not, Kellogg heads to state ranked No. 1.
Kellogg finally got the lead to double digits in the second half, and the Badgers (10-10) didn’t have an answer.
Timberlake (6-17), which topped Priest River 62-46 in a loser-out game, travels to Bonners Ferry tonight. The elimination game will send the winner to a play-in game Saturday for a second state berth.
Timberlake 62, Priest River 46: The Tigers used a fast start to put the Spartans away.
The Tigers led 23-9 after the first period and 36-19 at halftime.
The Spartans (4-16) never threatened in the second half.
Thomas Hauck led Timberlake with 11 points and Brandon Hausladen had 10. Trent Slinger led Priest River with 11.
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