NAMPA - Like all good things, eventually they to come to an end.
After nine lead changes and eight ties, the Lewiston Bengals were able to transfer the balance of power in the state 5A girls basketball tournament with a 43-39 win over the Coeur d'Alene Vikings in the championship game Saturday night at the Idaho Center, ending a three-year championship reign by the Vikings.
"It just didn't work out tonight," Coeur d'Alene coach Dale Poffenroth said. "We needed to have more balance. All of it had to come to an end at some point."
Senior post Carli Rosenthal had 24 points on 8 of 13 from the floor and 8 of 10 from the foul line for Coeur d'Alene (20-6).
"Carli tried to put the team on her back tonight," Poffenroth said. "We needed to have more balance. Lewiston had other scoring tonight. We just can't do that offensively."
Junior guard Erin Legel missed a jumper with 26.4 seconds remaining and forced the Vikings to foul late.
"We had the shot to win it late," Poffenroth said. "If that goes in, we might have won."
Rosenthal hit a jumper with 1:23 remaining to tie the game at 39, but it was the final points of the night for Coeur d'Alene.
Lewiston sophomore Karlee Wilson hit a pair of free throws late to ice the championship with 18.7 remaining.
"Winning a fourth straight title, there's no pressure on the kids," Poffenroth said. "It's all something for the media. It's one tournament and three games; whoever is playing the best wins."
Lewiston (22-3) won its first state title since 1976, when the Bengals captured the Class A crown in the first year of a state girls basketball tournament in Idaho.
“Tonight was two really good teams playing their heart out,” Lewiston coach Pat Teichmer said. “I don’t believe in the theory that it’s tough to beat a team three times. It’s tough to beat a quality team once. Carli’s really good and we knew the ball was going into her, but you just can’t stop her. We did everything we could, but eventually the fouls got to her and eventually got her out of there.”
Sophomore Kendalyn Brainard had eight points and five rebounds for Coeur d’Alene, which played in its sixth straight championship game.
“We did what we could tonight,” Brainard said. “We kept going to Carli inside and thought she could carry us.”
Brainard, who also started as a freshman on last year’s title team, returned after missing the first part of the year with an ACL injury.
“I’m very determined to get back here again,” Brainard said. “Hopefully over the summer I’ll improve my game in summer basketball. I made it through my recovery and I’m motivated to lead my team to another state title next February.”
For seniors Heather Baughman, Hailey Petit and Rosenthal, it was bittersweet.
“It’s been awesome,” Rosenthal said. “Having this experience of playing in a state title game every year has been great. We can still spray paint the trophy blue. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my team over the last four years.”
“It’s been amazing to have played with this group of seniors,” Baughman said. “I can’t explain just how it’s been getting to know them. Each year, it gets tougher and tougher to keep up with the success we’ve had. My senior year has been the best of my life. Even though we didn’t win, I’ll always cherish this season.”
“We were so close tonight,” Rosenthal said. “I’ve looked up to Coach Poff as a role model, and he keeps encouraging me to hustle and shoot — no matter what.”
Brainard and freshman Carli Williams, who both made quick recoveries after suffering knee injuries last summer, are expected to help guide Coeur d’Alene to a seventh straight state championship game, according to Poffenroth.
“That’s our goal for sure,” said Poffenroth, who said he plans to return for an eighth season at Coeur d’Alene. “We’ll have to replace Rosenthal. But if both Kendalyn and Carli Williams are willing to work that hard to get back to play, I may as well stick around for a while. If it means that much to them — then I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”
Coeur d’Alene 11 6 13 9 — 39
Lewiston 16 5 9 13 — 43
COEUR d’ALENE — Baughman 0, Orlandi 3, K. Parker 2, Legel 2, Petit 0, Rosenthal 24, Brainard 8, S. Williams 0. Totals 12-35 14-17 39.
LEWISTON — Wilson 12, Hansen 0, Johnson 0, Phillips 9, Blinn 14, Fuller 4, Waters 4. Totals 15-35 12-20 43.