BOISE – Basketball can be a cruel game. No matter what else happens on the floor, it’s tough to win if the ball doesn’t go in the hoop.
Such was the predicament of the Sandpoint girls on Friday. The Bulldogs’ worst shooting night of the year came at the worst possible time – in an Idaho 4A state tournament semifinal versus defending champion Century. Open look after open look clanged off the rim, and the end result was a frustrating, 41-28 loss at Timberline High School.
Century (20-4) advances to play Bishop Kelly (20-5) in Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game at the Idaho Center. Sandpoint (14-10) faces Minico (22-4) for third place at 10 a.m. at Timberline.
“It’s tough to win a ballgame at the state tournament when you shoot the way we did,” said Sandpoint coach Duane Ward, whose squad went 7 for 41 from the field. “But on the other hand, our kids played so hard and played such good defense that we were still within striking distance in the fourth quarter.”
It was an ominous beginning for Sandpoint. The Bulldogs misfired on five of their first six shots and trailed 11-6 after one quarter of play.
The shooting woes persisted. Sandpoint made just four first-half field goals, going 1 of 15 from 3-point range. Even senior standout Madison Schoening – a University of Montana commit – struggled, managing just four points on 1-of-9 shooting as Century grabbed a 19-11 halftime lead.
“Seven-for-41 just isn’t going to win a game for us,” Schoening said. “I was really happy with the looks we were getting. We were able to drive it inside a lot, but we couldn’t get one to go.”
The second half brought more of the same, as Century extended its lead with tough defense and more Sandpoint struggles. Schoening finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, and sophomore post Grace Kirscher added 10 points, but Riley Couch and Grace Hicks were the only other Bulldogs to score. Century also enjoyed a 42-28 rebounding advantage, including 13 offensive rebounds.
“They really outrebounded us – that was the other thing,” Ward said. “We don’t quite have the beef they have up front, but you have to give Century a lot of credit. They’re a good ballclub.”
Junior guard Katie Hiller scored 10 points to lead Century, which is back in the title game despite losing five talented seniors off last year’s championship team.
“It’s good motivation for us, because nobody expected us to be back here,” Century coach Chris Shuler said. “These girls have proved everybody wrong with their work ethic and their dedication.”
Meanwhile, Schoening and the Bulldogs will look to finish on a high note Saturday by bringing home a second consecutive third-place trophy.
“I’m looking forward to playing one more game for Sandpoint,” Schoening said. “I really want to win it for these girls, for our school and for the community. Just like last year, it’s not the trophy we wanted, but we still want to come home with something.”
Lake City 59, Highland 29: Nina Carlson scored 15 points, Lauren Rewers added 11 and the Timberwolves (20-5) routed the Rams at the Idaho Center in Nampa.
Lake City jumped ahead 14-5 after the first quarter and led 30-15 at halftime. The Timberwolves made 18 of 22 free throws and forced 16 turnovers. Highland shot just 23 percent (9 of 40) from the field and made 3 of 16 3-pointers.
The Timberwolves will play Hillcrest in the consolation championship on Saturday morning.
Timberlake 75, Teton 62: Allison Kirby scored 21 points and Keelie Lawler added 19 as the Tigers (22-2) pulled away in the third quarter and beat the Redskins in a semifinal game in Middleton.
Timberlake trailed by three at the half, but gained control with a 29-15 third-quarter run. The Tigers made 14 of 22 shots in the second half, including 5 of 8 3-pointers, and made 14 of 18 free throws.
The Tigers, who have finished second at state four of the past five years, play Marsh Valley in Saturday’s title game.
1A Division II
Lakeside 67, Council 62: Lillian Rhea had 28 points and 10 rebounds and the Knights withstood the Lumberjacks’ second-half charge and won in Nampa.
Cailyn Dohrman added 15 points for Lakeside, which will play Nezperce Saturday morning in the consolation championship game.
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