SANDPOINT – After three straight defeats to 5A Inland Empire League opponents, Sandpoint Girls Basketball was hungry for a Friday night win against Lewiston – and that desire made all the difference.
The Bulldogs beat the Bengals in the second half by 28:19 and took a 46:40 win. It is Sandpoint’s first 5A-4A Inland Empire League win of the season.
For the past week and a half, the Bulldogs have suffered blowout losses on their home pitch against Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Lake City. But SHS did not let these defeats get them down. They stuck with it and their commitment paid off against the Bengali.
“You have a lot of respect for the girls for believing in it,” said head coach Will Love, “and for having worked hard in the last few weeks when some teams might say, ‘I don’t know if I want to work that hard.’ “
The win also enables Sandpoint not to be without a win in the IEL game against the 5As.
The Bulldogs showed strong Friday when Senior Tru Tomco knocked down a 3-pointer in the first possession of the game to set the tone in the first quarter.
Sandpoint was in control from start to finish in the first quarter and had a 15:10 lead in the second quarter.
But the Bulldogs then hit a wall offensively and only scored 3 points within the frame. The Bengali went into halftime with 21:18.
But the Sandpoint attack came back to life in the second half – it only took a spark. Made a sophomore appearance 30-22 back in the middle of the third quarter, Aliya Strock drilled a 3-pointer – with a nice assist from the edge – to start an 11-1 Bulldogs run.
Junior Anna Reinink finished the run with a 3-pointer taking a kiss from the glass before finding the bottom of the net to give SHS a 33-31 lead before the fourth quarter. Sources could not confirm whether Reinink called “Bank”.
“The bank was open,” said Love.
Lewiston regained the lead with a 3-point game early in the fourth quarter, but Sandpoint had all the momentum and immediately took it back. The Bulldogs stayed ahead the rest of the way thanks to some clutchless litters and baskets from Junior Kelsey Cessna.
“From the third quarter on, I thought we were playing really, really well,” said Love. “We had some kids performing and playing big games.”
Cessna finished with 17 points, five rebounds, and three steals. She was also 9 of 13 off the free throw line.
“When you have a kid who does that well in a game, it just opens up opportunities for other kids,” said Love. “I’m really proud of Kelsey and the entire team.”
Less than a minute from time, Strock and senior Sofia Platte joined in to seal the deal for the Bulldogs. Strock drove to the basket and gave Platte in the post a nice pass, which did the rest to give SHS a 44-40 lead.
On November 20, the Bulldogs lost 54-34 in their second game of the season at Lewiston. Sandpoint got off to an extremely slow start in the competition, and by the time Love said he saw signs that his team could beat the Bengals if they match again. SHS just had to cap its sales and shoot better, Love said, and the Bulldogs did both on Friday. Sandpoint limited itself to 10 sales.
“We see that the offensive is going much more smoothly and that the children are getting where their strengths lie,” said Love.
Platte finished with 7 points, Strock and Tomco each scored 6 and Reinink scored 5. Junior Daylee Driggs added 3 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
The Bulldogs (3-5, 1-3 IEL) will travel to Boise after Christmas to take part in the Timber Lion tournament. You will meet Kuna on December 28th, Caldwell on December 29th and Columbia on December 30th.
Lewiston 10 11 10 9-40
Sand point 15 3 15 13 – 46
LEWISTON – Collins 9, U’Ren 8, Wessels 10, Riddle 3, Kessinger 1, Ortiz 9, Salim 0, Samuels 0, Burke 0.
SANDPOINT – Cessna 17, Driggs 3, Reinink 5, Tomco 6, Owens 0, Strock 6, Lyons 2, Plate 7.