Lewiston goes 6-foot-8, 6-5 and 6-5 inside.
When those Bengals jump, the length is much longer.
That by itself can bottle up an offense. But add an equal measure of energized play and it’s a delightful recipe.
It was for the visiting Bengals, who escaped with a 51-48 win over the Post Falls Trojans in the 5A Region I boys basketball championship game Tuesday.
A Lewiston official brought the regional trophy to the game. But it stays with the Bengals for a second straight year.
Lewiston (13-8) advances to state, March 2-4 in Nampa.
Post Falls (16-3) plays host to Coeur d’Alene (11-10) in a loser-out game Thursday. The winner advances to a play-in game for a state berth Saturday against the District III fifth-place team.
Coeur d’Alene eliminated Lake City (15-7) 61-51.
Lewiston 51, Post Falls 48: Jake Pfennigs hit two 3-pointers to spot the Trojans to an 11-2 start.
That start was fool’s gold for the Trojans, who relied too often on the 3-point shot and couldn’t muster anything inside. Lewiston’s 6-8 Trystan Bradley and 6-5 Braedon Wilson combined for six blocked shots, but the altered many others.
Lewiston rebounded nicely after the Trojans’ start to build a 26-16 lead before settling for a 27-19 advantage at halftime.
Post Falls rallied in the second half, managing to take a 37-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
But three turnovers in succession in a 1-minute, 15-second span late in the fourth quarter handcuffed Post Falls.
The Trojans were forced to foul trailing 45-42 with under a minute to go. Lewiston made 6 of 7 foul shots and survived a half-court shot at the buzzer that would have tied the game.
On this night, the Bengals were a reflection of their coach, Jayson Ulrich, who was jumping up and down imploring his team to play defense throughout.
Ulrich said afterward he thought he may have sweated as much as his players.
Eleven days ago on the same court, Post Falls scored 84 points against the Bengals.
“Much better (defense) than the last time,” Ulrich said. “It’s amazing what happens when you play with some emotion. That’s what we really pushed from the last time we played them … playing with emotion. It helps with so many things – the defense, the rebounding.”
This was one night Ulrich was pleased his team mirrored his effort on the sideline.
“I get teased all the time that the kids take on my attitude and my characteristics at times because I’m overly competitive,” Ulrich said.
Ulrich believes his team, which suffered some losses to quality teams, is starting to peak at the right time.
Bradley led Lewiston with 20 points, and the Trojans didn’t have an answer for him.
“Their length,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “Bradley protects the rim really well. They did a good job of taking away our first or second option and we didn’t do a job of being assertive offensively and taking what we wanted. I thought we settled at times – and not necessarily settled for shots but maybe settled for not taking a shot or not looking to create off the dribble.”
McLean thought his team expended so much energy that it wasn’t able to finish in the second half when it mattered.
Coeur d’Alene 61, Lake City 51: Joey Naccarato scored 18 points and had 18 rebounds to lead the Vikings past the visiting Timberwolves. Sam Matheson added 19 points and Colson Yankoff had 10. The Viks held LC’s leading scorer, Kenny Louie-McGee, to four points. James Carlson led LC with 12.
4A Region I
Lakeland 51, Sandpoint 39: The Hawks (9-13) eliminated the Bulldogs (3-18) at North Idaho College. Dylan Vahey led the Hawks with 13 points and five assists. Robbie Johnson led Sandpoint with 20 points. Lakeland takes on Moscow (7-11) in the title game Thursday.
3A District I
Kellogg 88, Bonners Ferry 62: The Wildcats (17-2) got 27 points each from Chase Jerome and Toby Colburn as they ran over the Badgers (8-12) at North Idaho College. Kellogg takes on Priest River (7-14) in the title game Thursday while Bonners Ferry and Timberlake (11-8) meet in a loser-out game.
2A District I-II
St. Maries 64, Grangeville 36: The Lumberjacks earned a state berth, and did so by doubling up the Bulldogs 38-19 in the first half at Troy High School. Fueled by solid defense, the Lumberjacks also used balanced offense. Jacob Sieler led with 17 points, eight steals and six assists; Kiefer Gibson had 11 points and nine rebounds; and Brady Martin chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.
1A Division II
Genesis Prep 68, Kootenai 19: The Jaguars (17-4) eliminated the Warriors at Lakeland High. Genesis Prep takes on Lakeside (9-10) to decide the title on Thursday.
Lakeside 59, Clark Fork 44: The Knights topped the Wampus Cats in a loser-out game at Lakeland.
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