COEUR d’ALENE — For a team largely inexperienced at playing in 5A Inland Empire League games, the visiting Post Falls Trojans looked quite comfortable in the first half of their league opener Tuesday night.
Post Falls shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half, led by nine at halftime, and were up by 13 in the second half before holding off the Coeur d’Alene Vikings 54-47 at Elmer Jordan Court.
“Anytime you can get a win on the road in this league, you sleep a little better at night,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said.
Jake Pfennigs, the lone returning starter and one of only four returning varsity players, had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Post Falls (8-2, 1-0 5A IEL). Drake Thompson had 10 points and four assists, and Tanner McCliment-Call added 10 points for the Trojans.
Coeur d’Alene (4-6, 1-1) played zone in the first half, and Post Falls made 5 of 13 3-pointers and led 35-26 at the half. One of those 3s came from backup guard Casey Walker and gave the Trojans an 18-15 lead after one quarter.
“I watched film (of Post Falls’s game at Glacier on Saturday), and they weren’t super-effective against a 2-3,” first-year Coeur d’Alene coach Tony Hanna said. “So we tried to run a 2-3 and they were very effective against it.”
Coeur d’Alene switched to man-to-man in the second half, and scoring on both sides slowed down. Post Falls took just 13 shots in the second half, making four, while the Vikings were 6 of 19 in the second half, 15 of 38 for the game.
Post Falls built a 43-30 lead when the Trojans beat the press and McCliment-Call converted a pass from Colby Gennett with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Coeur d’Alene pulled within 47-42 on a jumper from the left wing by Joey Naccarato with 4:46 left. But the Vikings did not score another basket the rest of the game. Post Falls kept the door open by missing 8 of 10 free throws in the final 1:08, but an offensive basket interference call on Coeur d’Alene put a crimp in the Vikings’ comeback plans.
McCliment-Call, Cameron McKeown and David Bourgard are the only other returnees from last year for Post Falls.
“I thought we competed from the opening tip,” McLean said. “We were focused; the guys did exactly what we wanted, especially on the defensive end. We just wanted to make them work for everything.”
Sam Matheson (18 points), Naccarato (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Colson Yankoff (11 points) combined to score all but two of Coeur d’Alene’s points.
“Actually, I’m not that disappointed; we did some things better than we have,” Hanna said. “These guys are still getting used to me, and a new system. They’re not real comfortable with the new offense we’re trying to run, but we’re going to get there.”
On Friday, Post Falls travels to Lewiston, and Coeur d’Alene visits Lake City in the Fight for the Fish spirit game.
Post Falls 18 17 8 11 — 54
Coeur d’Alene 15 11 10 11 — 47
POST FALLS — Gennett 6, Thompson 10, McKeown 5, McCliment-Call 10, Walker 3, Bourgard 5, Fleming 2, Ballew 0, Pfennigs 13, Morris 0.
COEUR d’ALENE — Kofmehl 0, Johnson 0, Matheson 18, Yankoff 11, Bronson 0, Beggerly 0, Naccarato 16, I. Edwards 2, Bloom 0, K. Edwards 0.