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Late Mustang charge falls short

Feb. 17—NAMPA — After three of their lowest-scoring quarters all season, the No. 4 Deary Mustangs came alive in the fourth to run the top-seeded Dietrich Blue Devils close in Idaho Class 1A Division II girls basketball state semifinal action on Friday at Nampa High School.

In the end, it was not quite enough.

Dietrich prevailed 29-26, booking a spot in today's title game against Kendrick at 8:30 a.m. Pacific, while Deary will play for third place against Council at 11 a.m., both at Nampa's Ford Idaho Center.

Historic drought

A miserable second quarter in which the Mustangs could neither stop 6-foot Dietrich post Katilyn Wanamaker on the inside nor get a ball through the net themselves put Deary (15-8) in a hole that it would ultimately never quite escape. Possession after possession ended in bricked or blocked shots, wayward passes, or rebounds for Dietrich (20-3) as Deary went the entire frame without scoring and entered halftime down 15-6 and having converted only a single field goal from 17 total attempts.

The woes continued past intermission.

The Mustangs went close to 15 minutes of play in all without scoring a point — stretching from the final minute of the first quarter into the last three minutes of third — before Kenadie Kirk finally broke the drought by driving in to dish up a basket that seemed to finally flip a switch for the underdogs. Deary briefly faced its largest deficit of all at 20-8 near the end of the third before an Araya Wood layup dropped in off the backboard to punctuate the period.

Mustangs muster rally

Come the fourth, the urgency of the situation and a renewed self-belief had the Mustangs looking like a different team (or, one might say, the team they had been for most of the season). Sisters Araya and Kaylee Wood hit 3-point goals in close succession to help rapidly cut the gap — the latter bringing the score within a possession at 22-19 with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.

The Blue Devils, who had themselves looked flustered and stalled with the finish line nearing, found a critical boost when Saige Hubert answered with her own deep 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 25-19. The Mustangs would repeatedly pull back into single-possession territory, but never quite tie or take the lead. Deary's last gasp came when an inbound pass with just one second left on the clock and a three-point deficit to recoup found a wide-open Allie Vincent, but landed a hair short. Vincent struggled for an instant to gain control of the ball, and was too late passing to Madelyn Proctor, who stood poised at the top of the arc as time expired.

Facts and figures

Wanamaker was the game's overall standout player and the difference-maker for the Blue Devils, finishing with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Dietrich's greater height was evident, and the Blue Devils fittingly won the rebound battle 40-34, while the Mustangs were a bit more responsible with the ball, committing 11 turnovers to the top seeds' 16.

Araya Wood totaled a team-high nine points for Deary while making three rebounds. Kirk had a matching eight points and eight rebounds, and Kaylee Wood notched seven points and five boards.

Deary, which fell to Rockland in last year's state third-place game, will be looking to gain one rung on the proverbial ladder today as it takes on the Lumberjacks (12-6), who lost to the Mustangs' perennial league rival Kendrick in Friday's other semifinal.

DEARY (15-8)

Madelyn Proctor 1 0-0 2, Kaylee Wood 2 2-5 7, Kenadie Kirk 2 4-4 8, Araya Wood 4 0-0 9, Karmen Griffin 0 0-0 0, Allie Vincent 0 0-0 0. Totals 9 6-9 26.

DIETRICH (20-3)

Paje Van Tassell 0 3-4 3, Jessika Power 0 0-0 0, Aleigha Robertson 2 0-0 5, Saige Hubert 2 2-4 7, Ellie Hoskisson 1 0-0 3, Katilyn Wanamaker 5 1-2 11. Totals 10 6-10 29.

Deary 6 0 4 16—26

Dietrich 7 8 5 9—29

3-point goals — K. Wood, A. Wood, Robertson, Hubert, Hoskisson.

Wendt can be contacted at 208-848-2268 or cwendt@lmtribune.com.