NAMPA, Idaho – The fourth time wasn’t so charmed for the Coeur d’Alene girls basketball team.
The Vikings fell short in their bid to win a fourth consecutive state title as the Lewiston Bengals squeezed past CdA 43-39 in a girls State 5A championship game at the Idaho Center on Saturday night.
Last season, CdA rallied past Lewiston in the state title game in the fourth quarter, but Lewiston was ready this time, turning back CdA to win its first championship since 1976.
After CdA (20-6) fell behind 37-32 midway through the fourth quarter, four-year starter Carli Rosenthal fueled the Vikings’ late rally.
Rosenthal, who finished with 24 points, scored all nine of CdA’s points in the fourth quarter, including the Vikings’ final 15 points overall.
“We relied too much on Carli,” CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said. “It’s no fault of hers. She put the team on her back and did everything she could to win the game, but we needed to get more players involved offensively.”
With the score tied at 39 with 57 seconds remaining, Lewiston forward Tisha Phillips drew Rosenthal’s fifth foul of the game with a strong drive to the basket.
Phillips made one free throw to put Lewiston ahead 40-39, but the real damage was done with the foul. With Rosenthal out of the game, CdA struggled to find an answer.
“We couldn’t stop (Rosenthal) tonight,” Lewiston coach Pat Teichner said. “We tried fronting her. We tried doubling down on her. We tried sneaking from behind on her. Nothing worked.
“So when we got her out of the game, that created some more opportunities for us.”
Lewiston (22-3) sank three of its final four free throws to seal the victory and end CdA’s impressive reign atop the state.
“They all have to come to an end at some point,” Poffenroth said. “If we’re going to give the state title to someone, it might as well be someone we know.”
Lewiston won two hard-fought regular-season meetings with CdA by margins of eight and seven points. And this time it was no different.
The first half resembled the appearance of two heavyweight fighters feeling out their opponent before attacking.
CdA cobbled together an early 6-3 lead before Lewiston went on a 7-0 spurt to take a 10-6 lead with 3:11 left in the first quarter.
Then the two teams did little more than exchange baskets until halftime with Lewiston taking a 21-17 lead.
CdA came out swinging in the third quarter, opening with a 9-2 run to retake the lead for the first time since early in the game at 26-23.
But Lewiston responded with a 5-0 run of its own as the two teams went into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 30.
Lewiston took charge early in the fourth quarter, using a combination of good free-throw shooting and solid play in the paint to build a 37-32 lead with 3:50 remaining.
But Rosenthal refused to let Lewiston walk away without some strong resistance. She scored seven of the game’s next nine points in a two-minute span to tie the game at 39 with 1:25 remaining.
Kendalyn Brainard had eight points for CdA.
Savannah Blinn led Lewiston with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Karlee Wilson scored 12.