With their newly crowned Idaho state champion girls team looking on Tuesday night, the 5A Inland Empire League top-seeded Post Falls boys team knew it needed to go to work in the District 1-2 title game against No. 2 seed Coeur d’Alene.
The Vikings put up a fight in the first quarter – after which the Trojans trailed 15-13.
But the host and top seed turned up the defensive pressure and limited CdA to single digits in each of the remaining three quarters to secure a 56-31 win.
Post Falls (18-5) earns a trip to the state tournament next week while Coeur d’Alene (12-10) must face a resurgent fourth-seeded Lake City team on Thursday in a loser-out game. LC routed Lewiston 70-37 in a loser-out game.
The winner moves on to a game against the District 3 fifth-place team on Saturday in a play-in game to state.
“We didn’t score very well tonight,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “We didn’t shoot it very well. The thing we really pride ourselves on over the last 11 years … that I think is sometimes overlooked is defense.”
David Bourgard led Post Falls with 18 points – 10 in the first quarter – and Colby Gennett added 14.
“Our coach always says ‘A good shot is a good shot no matter what,’ ” Bourgard said. “I just had faith in my teammates to get me the ball tonight. Any other night it could be them.
“I’m just glad we all played together and we were all playing defense together.”
Kale Edwards led Coeur d’Alene with 11 points and Sam Matheson added 10.
Trojans 6-foot-7 post Jacob Pfennigs was held to three points, but he grabbed 10 rebounds and had two big blocked shots in the third quarter.
“I thought tonight was a perfect example of maybe our main guys didn’t have it going right off the bat,” McLean said. “But our guys came off the bench and found a way.
“The important part is when you hold a team to 31 points you’ve got a chance.”
CdA was all business early. Caleb Beggerly made a layup in transition, converted a pair of free throws and added another layup and the Vikings led 12-7. Beggerly scored all six of his points in the early going.
But Tanner McCliment-Call and Bourgard hit 3-pointers near the end of the quarter and Coeur d’Alene led 15-13 at the end of one.
Back-to-back fast-break layups by McCliment-Call and Gennett early in the second gave Post Falls a 19-17 lead at the media timeout.
Post Falls made the next three baskets after the short break, culminating with a 3-pointer by Gennett to make it 25-17 with 1:18 left in the half. Gennett heaved one from near halfcourt at the first-half buzzer and the Trojans led 30-19 at intermission.
Post Falls came out on a mission to start the third quarter.
Gennett got loose on a fastbreak and threw down a two-handed slam. McCliment-Call’s layup on the next possession put the Trojans up 40-22 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
CdA scored the next six points, narrowing the deficit to 12 with 2:13 remaining.
McLean asked for a timeout. He said there wasn’t a big speech, but he wanted to remind his squad how they built that lead to begin with.
“We’re a team that’s played too much together, too much basketball at a high level,” he said to his team. “So let’s just go back to what we did (to get the lead).”
Post Falls clamped down on defense and didn’t allow CdA to score the rest of the frame.
Post Falls opened the fourth quarter with a 10-1 run. With the Trojans’ overwhelming defense, there was no comeback in the offing.
Post Falls limited the Vikings to three points in the fourth quarter. The Trojans wrapped up the district title and a berth at state going away.
The Trojans’ state champion girls team was honored at halftime, which could have been an inspiration to the boys team – or add to the pressure.
“They’re saying, ‘Now it’s your turn,’ ” Bourgard said. “It’s more weight on our shoulders than we had before.”
“It’s inspiration,” Pfennigs said. “There’s no pressure. We’re gonna get it done.”