The Post Falls girls basketball team picked an opportune time to play as well as it has this season.
The No. 1-ranked Trojans opened an 18-point lead on second-ranked Coeur d’Alene and withstood a late rally for a 55-45 win in the 5A Region I championship game Tuesday at Post Falls.
Post Falls (21-1) advances to state for the first time since 2008. The Trojans will open Feb. 14 against the still-to-be determined District III runner-up.
The Vikings (17-5) can still earn a state berth. First they must survive a loser-out game Thursday at home against defending state champ Lewiston (16-6), which eliminated Lake City (10-12) 45-24 on Tuesday.
The CdA/Lewiston winner turns around on Saturday to face the District III fifth-place team in a play-in game for a state berth.
Post Falls 55, Coeur d’Alene 45: Trojans coach Marc Allert told his team at halftime that the Viks would make a run in the second half.
He just didn’t know it wouldn’t happen until his team had forged their biggest lead 37-19 midway in the third quarter.
“At times we played really well both offensively and defensively,” Allert said. “I was real happy with our execution.”
Post Falls took a 41-26 lead into the fourth quarter. That’s when CdA, with starting post Sydney Williams and starting forward Kendalyn Brainard, started the run Allert talked about at halftime.
With a guard-heavy lineup, the Vikings got a pair of 3-pointers from Madison Sumner to pull with 43-39 with 4:22 to go.
Enter Williams and Brainard. Instead of tightening things up more, though, CdA watched the Trojans regain their composure.
Williams picked up her fourth and fifth fouls in a matter of 29 seconds and Brainard committed back-to-back turnovers.
Post Falls point guard Brooke Litalien made two free throws and completed a three-point play to quickly extend the Trojans’ lead to 48-39 with 2:44 remaining.
Litalien followed with two more free throws to push the lead back to double digits.
It’s no coincidence that Post Falls’ best game of the year paralleled post Dani Failor’s best game.
Failor scored a game-high 22 points to go with 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Dani Failor played the game of her life,” CdA coach Dale Poffenroth said. “I haven’t seen Dani play that well. She played defense, she ran the floor, she moved on offense. Like I told her after the game, ‘Dani, you picked a great night to have a super game’. She broke out and did a really nice job. We didn’t have an answer for her.”
Hallie Gennett, a transfer from University, supported Failor with 17 points and eight rebounds. Sumner led CdA with 13 points and five rebounds.
Lewiston 45, Lake City 24: Ahead 25-15 at halftime, the Bengals put it away by outscoring the visiting Timberwolves 9-2 in the third quarter.
Karlee Wilson and Emile Schlader led Lewiston with 10 points each.
Sandpoint 46, Lakeland 23: The Bulldogs (14-9) outscored the visiting Hawks (2-18) 19-5 in the second half in the elimination game.
The Bulldogs travel to Moscow (7-11) on Thursday for the regional title game.
Hailey Olin led Sandpoint with 15 points and Josie Coder led Lakeland with nine.