Nov. 15—The Lewiston girls basketball team wore pregame warmup shirts that had "Grit" on the back of them before Tuesday's home game against the Lakeland Hawks of Rathdrum. The Bengals showed all of that four-letter word and then some in a 55-53 loss against the Hawks.
Lewiston (1-2) nearly completed a 23-point comeback but fell just short.
"That's one of those games that could've gone either way," Lakeland coach Tyrel Derrick said. "I was proud of our girls that stuck together at the end. They just decided to make some plays that ended up being the difference in the game. And last year I wouldn't have said that's the case."
For the Bengals to get to the point they were at the end of the game, they first had to withstand a towering presence in Lakeland (1-0).
The biggest factor in Lewiston's loss was a slow first quarter.
The Hawks tower above most other teams since four players are 6-foot or taller. The Bengals' three tallest players are listed at 5-11.
Lewiston took a while to adjust to that kind of height. It was unable to get clean passes down to the post for junior frontcourt players Reece DeGroot and Addy McKarcher. Open looks on the perimeter were also hard to come by. This led to a four-point first quarter by the Bengals offense and a litany of offensive rebounds and second-chance points for Lakeland on the other end of the court.
Lewiston's defense started to become more physical and crashed the glass at a more efficient rate as the game progressed. The offense also started to find its footing, but the Bengals still went into halftime trailing 30-17. And things got worse before they got better.
Setbacks are temporary
The Hawks started the second half on a 10-0 run and went up by 23 over Lewiston. DeGroot and McKarcher responded by creating their own baskets, and that was the spark the Bengals offense needed. DeGroot finished with a team-high 13 points while McKarcher added 12.
Lewiston's offense went on a run of its own and started chipping away at Lakeland's lead. Junior guard Breanna Albright ended up getting an offensive rebound off her own miss with 1:41 left in the third quarter and finished on the and-one play.
The putback and ensuing free throw brought the Bengals to within 42-35. Albright left the game (but later returned) a minute later after bleeding from her nose in a tussle for a loose ball. After she returned, she hit a 3-pointer with just under five minutes left in the fourth to get the game back within single digits.
Albright's injury wasn't the only one for Lewiston on Tuesday. Junior Skye VanTrease exited the game with six minutes left after suffering a tough fall and an undisclosed neck injury. She returned to the bench later, favoring her neck with an ice pack, but didn't get back into the game.
"(Skye) seems good," Lewiston coach Julie Fisher said. "It was a scary incident. She doesn't have anything right now to be concerned about. But it did shake us all up when she went up. It was scary."
Late push falls short
Junior guard Bay Delich hit a 3-pointer, her final of her 11 total points for the night, with just over 50 seconds left in the game to pull Lewiston within one point of the Hawks.
Lakeland scored a layup on the following possession to go back up by three with 20 seconds left. The Bengals missed free throws on the next possession, but an incredible sequence of events followed to give Lewiston one last chance of winning or sending the game to overtime.
A weird equation that included a foul by the Bengals, an inbound that ricocheted off a Hawks defender and a foul called on Lakeland equated to two free throw attempts for McKarcher.
McKarcher made her first and intentionally missed the second to give her team a chance to get the rebound and get a shot up.
Players from the Hawks and Lewiston ended up getting tied up going for possession and the final whistle of the game was called: jump ball — possession Lakeland.
"I called a timeout and I asked the girls to compete — and they competed," Fisher said. "I was really proud of them for that. We just have to take it one step at a time and get better each game and learn to compete every minute we're on the floor, then these games will be a lot different."
Landree Simon 7 1-2 16, Karstyn Kiefer 4 5-6 13, Libby Hatcher 0 0-0 0, Kyla Holte 1 0-0 2, Jersi McMurray 0 0-0 0, Lila Kiefer 3 0-0 9, Macy Bretveld 1 0-0 3, Payton Sterling 6 0-0 12, Marianna Bullington 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 6-8 55.
Bay Delich 3 3-4 11, Breanna Albright 2 3-3 8, Skye VanTrease 0 0-0 0, Emery McKarcher 1 0-0 2, Addy McKarcher 3 6-11 12, Avery Lathen 2 2-4 7, Mara Kessinger 0 0-0 0, Reece DeGroot 5 2-2 13, Taylor Holman 0 0-2 0. Totals 16 16-26 53.
Lakeland 16 14 12 13—55
Lewiston 4 13 18 18—53
3-point goals — Kiefer 3, Delich 2, Simon, Bretveld, Albright, Lathen, DeGroot.
Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, email@example.com or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.