NAMPA, Idaho – Post Falls senior Danielle Failor never imagined she’d be a hero.
After Saturday night’s drama, she’ll live on forever in Trojans basketball lore. With the game tied and the final seconds ticking away, Failor came up with a steal, dribbled the length of the floor and got fouled with 5.2 seconds remaining.
She calmly nailed the final two shots of her high school career, giving Post Falls a 46-44 overtime victory over rival Coeur d’Alene in the 5A state championship game at the Idaho Center.
“It was all just muscle memory and praying to God,” Failor said. “Never in my life did I think I would be in that position, but I’m so grateful to be a part of this team and so glad I was able to help us win.”
Failor, who will play for Army at West Point next season, had 11 points and 11 rebounds, finishing the three-day tournament with averages of 15 points and 14.6 rebounds. But she had plenty of help in the title game, including some huge plays by unsung teammates.
Senior guard Katie King scored nine points, hitting three 3-pointers. Senior guard Whitney Gonzales only played 7:53, but scored eight big points, including six during a second-half scoring burst.
“Whitney’s a senior, and when her time came, she got the job done,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said. “That’s what our team is all about. Dani and Hallie (Gennett) get a lot of the publicity, but we have great kids all the way around, and that’s why we’re here.”
Regulation ended in a 37-37 tie. It was a defensive battle throughout, and neither team got a quality shot off in the final 1:30.
King opened the OT scoring with a 3-pointer, but Coeur d’Alene answered with free throws by junior forward Sydney Williams and a layup by junior guard Madison Sumner to retake the lead, 41-40. Failor hit one free throw to tie it, but Williams answered with a layup and Brittany Tackett made a steal and a free throw to give the Vikings a 44-41 edge with 55 seconds to go.
Post Falls (24-1) had trouble inbounding before finally getting the ball to Lexi Smith at the top of the key. The junior splashed the tying 3 with 40 seconds remaining, setting the stage for the final sequence and Failor’s winning heroics.
“I didn’t really have any option to pass,” Smith said. “But no one was on me, so I shot it, and it went.”
The game was the teams’ fourth meeting this season (Post Falls won three of the four), and no one was surprised to see it end up a barn burner. Williams (15 points) and Sumner (12 points, eight rebounds) carried Coeur d’Alene (21-6) to the brink of an upset, but the effort fell just short.
“You can’t fault the kids,” Vikings coach Dale Poffenroth said. “They played hard and we had our chances. It just came down to a couple breaks, and we didn’t get the breaks. A few missed shots, a few calls that didn’t go our way – in a game like this, that’s all that makes the difference.”
Gennett had five points and five rebounds for Post Falls, while Brooke Litalien added five points and five assists. Allert’s first state title also is the Trojans’ first as a 5A program and first overall since 2003.
“It was a battle,” Allert said. “It’s been the same all four times we’ve played Coeur d’Alene, and we knew it would be that way tonight. Our girls just showed a lot of heart and character, and they got it done.
“It’s a huge win for our program, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Bonners Ferry 48, Marsh Valley 34: Savanna Woods had 13 points and nine rebounds and Kendra Merritt added 13 points as the Badgers (18-6) topped the Eagles in the consolation championship at Skyview High School in Nampa, Idaho.
McKenzie MacDonald added 11 points for Bonners Ferry, which led by 12 points at halftime after holding Marsh Valley to 3-of-16 shooting in the first half.