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Coeur d’Alene girls rally from way back to win state opener

NAMPA – With Coeur d’Alene’s season hanging in the balance after trailing Boise by 12 at halftime, the Vikings implemented their emergency plan: Press 13.

And it was a lucky 13 for the Vikings.

Using a relentless three-quarters court press, CdA staved off Boise’s upset bid and pulled away for a 65-52 victory in the first round of the girls State 5A basketball tournament Thursday night at the Idaho Center.

“We run Press 13 every day in practice, but when we run it in a game, it’s a last-ditch effort,” said CdA sophomore Kendalyn Brainard, who continued her remarkable from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee with a team-high 16 points against Boise. “I just kept telling myself that this wasn’t how it was going to end. It just couldn’t end this way.”

It doesn’t end for CdA (19-5), which advances to the semifinals at 7 p.m. (PST) Friday to face Highland, a 40-27 winner over Mountain View earlier Thursday.

Boise (19-5) took advantage of a 17-for-18 free-throw shooting performance and CdA foul trouble in the first half to build a 41-29 halftime lead. The Braves led by as many as 15 points late in the second quarter.

However, CdA, which rallied from its largest deficit all season, smothered Boise in the second half. The Vikings forced 10 turnovers and held the Braves to 15.8 percent from the floor.

“We couldn’t get things going in the first half,” CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said. “At halftime, I thought if this is the way they play in the second half, it’s their night and it’s over.”

But a night that looked like it belonged early to Boise ultimately went CdA’s way.

After Boise scratched out a 17-14 lead in the first quarter, CdA’s leading scorer Carli Rosenthal stumbled into foul trouble early in the second quarter.

Then Braves center Jacqueline Luna-Castro began to find her way to the free-throw line often. Her six points in the paint and a 7-of-7 performance from the free-throw line helped Boise build a 41-29 hafltime lead.

Then CdA stormed back behind Brainard and Rosenthal. The pair combined for 14 points in the third quarter to pull the Vikings within 48-47.

With Rosenthal on the bench with four fouls to start the fourth quarter, Brainard did CdA’s heavy lifting. Her turnaround jumper with 4:10 remaining gave the Vikings their first lead at 54-52 since midway through the first quarter.

Then Brainard delivered the knockout blow to Boise, drawing Luna-Castro’s fifth foul under the basket with 3:02 remaining.

Boise wouldn’t score again.

CdA continued with its relentless Press 13 and hit 6 of 9 free throws down the stretch to ice the game and escape with the victory.

Rosenthal finished with 16 points and nine rebounds for CdA, while Kyeli Parker and Caelyn Orlandi added 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Boise wasted Luna-Castro’s 22-point and nine-rebound performance.