If the girls State 5A basketball tournament is stuck in a perpetual Ground Hog Day, the Coeur d’Alene Vikings like their chances.
For the second straight season, CdA advanced to the title game by defeating the Highland Rams in the semifinals, this time with a 56-36 win Friday night at the Idaho Center in Nampa.
And for the second straight season, CdA will face Inland Empire League rival Lewiston for the championship today at 7 p.m. PST.
CdA (20-5) will attempt to become the second school in state history to win four straight titles since Meridian performed the feat between 1980-83.
But CdA coach Dale Poffenroth doesn’t seem concerned about etching his name in the state record books.
“We’re going to do our best to win it again, but if we don’t, we’ll shake it off and try to get back here next year,” Poffenroth said. “But we’re looking forward to the challenge with Lewiston.”
Highland (23-2) was hardly a challenge for CdA, which never relinquished the lead after scoring in the opening minute.
However, the Vikings struggled to pull away in the first half as Highland never trailed by more than double digits until the waning minutes of the first half.
Then Erin Legel eliminated all doubt.
The junior guard came off the bench to score 21 points and spark the Vikings in the second half, turning the game into a rout.
“I feel better coming off the bench,” said Legel, who began the season as a starter but requested a move to the bench. “It’s a lot easier for me because I’m not as nervous as when I start a game on the floor.
“Sitting on the bench, I could see we could beat them off the dribble. It worked pretty well tonight.”
Leading 28-19 at halftime, the Vikings opened the second half on an 11-4 run, sparked by eight points from Legel.
CdA carried a 41-26 advantage into the fourth quarter and reeled off nine of the game’s next 11 points to build an a 50-28 lead with just over 4 minutes remaining.
CdA finished with a 52.4 shooting percentage, compared to a 27.1 performance by Highland.
Kendalyn Brainard, the star of CdA’s opening-round win over Boise, scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Carli Rosenthal added eight points and pulled down 12 boards.
CdA, making its sixth straight appearance in the finals, will have to earn this year’s championship by doing something it failed to do during the regular season – beat Lewiston.
Lewiston, which dispatched previously unbeaten Centennial 58-53 earlier Friday, won both meetings between CdA by margins of seven and eight points.
Lewiston 58, Centennial 53: Tanis Fuller led four Bengals in double figures with 21 points Lewiston (21-3) handed Centennial (24-1) its first loss of the year in the state semifinals in Nampa.
Lewiston also received 11 points and 11 rebounds from Chelsea Waters.
Moscow 51, Mountain Home 50 (OT): Abi Quinett hit 8 of 11 shots for 20 points and added 10 rebounds as the Bears (10-16) advanced to the consolation finals with their win over the Tigers (14-11) in Boise. The Bears went on an 18-10 run to take the lead in the third quarter and in overtime, edged out the Tigers 7-6 for the win.
Kylie Gorton added 10 points for Moscow, which plays Rigby today at 8:15 a.m.
Timberlake 42, Snake River 30: Cassie Thompson poured in 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting and tallied nine rebounds to lead the Tigers (20-4) to the state championship game, beating the Panthers (17-6) in Nampa. Caitlyn Nichols added 10 points and eight steals for the Tigers, who forced 29 turnovers, taking a 19-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Timberlake will square off against Sugar-Salem (20-5) in the state championship game today at 2:50 p.m.
Priest River 45, Weiser 44: Liz Halcro went for 14 points and 10 rebounds, Holly Hirst added 10 points and six boards and the Spartans (14-11) rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to beat the Wolverines (21-4) in the consolation semifinals.
PR was outscored 11-2 in the second quarter, but went on a 30-24 run the rest of the way to advance to the consolation finals today against Fruitland at 8:15 a.m.
State 1A Division II
Garden Valley 39, Clark Fork 28: Tess McInnally scored 15 points and the Wolverines (13-9) eliminated the Wampus Cats (12-10) in the consolation semifinals in Nampa. Tess Vogel led CF with 12 points and 10 rebounds.