COEUR d’ALENE — The Lake City Timberwolves almost overcame another slow start.
But even following Friday night’s 54-51 loss to Rogers of Puyallup, Wash., Lake City coach Jim Winger said he was pleased with the progress of his young team, which boasts more freshmen (three) than seniors (two).
And all three freshmen start.
“I know a lot of coaches say, ‘Well, we’re young,’ but I think we have the right to say that,” Winger said. “I’m pleased with how hard we’re playing, and how our young kids are handling varsity basketball. I think defensively we’re coming along well; the kids are doing a good job with adjustments.”
The frosh report card on this night — wing Varick Meredith had nine points and four rebounds, wing Zach Johnson added seven points, and point guard Kolton Mitchell had six points and four steals.
“I think statistically, and how they’ve played, they should be out there,” Winger said.
Senior Seth Hanson led Lake City (5-3) with 10 points. Junior Jack Kiesbuy, in his third year on the varsity, added seven points as all nine guys on the roster played, and all nine scored.
Kiesbuy is believed to be the only other player to start as a freshman under Winger, in his 23rd season as a high school coach, and 21st at Lake City.
The freshmen have played high-level AAU ball against similar-age players for years. But Winger said this summer, when the T-Wolves played several tournaments against high school-aged players, capped by a strong showing at the Gonzaga team camp, convinced him that “this is going to work.”
“They’re good players, and the rest of the guys, they’re a year older from last year,” Winger said. “We’re going to play nine guys, and everybody gets in, and the kids have accepted the freshmen real well. And they deserve to be out there.”
Now once the T-Wolves figure out how to overcome those slow starts ...
On Friday night, Lake City missed its first six shots and fell behind 9-0 after 3 minutes. The T-Wolves pecked away, but the Rams (3-5), who start five seniors, kept the tourney hosts at arm’s length.
A driving lefthanded layin by junior Nathan Spellman gave Lake City its first lead of the game at 46-45 with 5:14 left in the game. Rogers did not score for the first 4 1/2 minutes of the quarter, but a pair of baskets by Tyrese Rios put the Rams up 49-46 with 2:41 left.
Hanson tied the game at 49 with a 3 from the top of the key. Lake City then narrowly missed a steal on the defensive end, and Nick Hansen was left open and hit a 3 with 2 minutes left to put Rogers back in front.
A putback by Kiesbuy pulled Lake City within one, but Matti Turco escaped a trap and fed Rios for a layup. Lake City had a chance to tie after Auburn missed the front end of a one-and-one with 10.7 seconds left, but Kiesbuy’s 3 from the left wing was off the rim.
“That’s three games in a row where we really stumbled (out of the gate),” Winger said. “But I feel really positive about the game. I think they (the Rams) are a really good team, and considering our shooting statistics (18 of 50 from the field) to have a shot at it is a pretty good sign. I thought we played hard; we didn’t shoot well, and we didn’t rebound particularly well.
“But as far as a gauge to where we’re at this time of year, I’m pretty happy.”
Jace Barrett of Rogers, a 6-foot-2 lefty-shooting guard who has committed to Washington, led all scorers with 18 points. But Lake City held Barrett to just two points in the second half as part of its comeback.
Rios added 12 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots for Rogers, which led Post Falls by double digits in the first half on Thursday before losing by 8.
Lake City plays North Central today at 12:30 p.m. on the final day of the tourney. North Central (1-9) lost 42-28 on Friday to Heritage (6-4) of Vancouver, Wash. Capone Johnson led Heritage with 16 points; Levi Edwards scored 15 for NC.
Rogers-Puyallup 17 17 11 9 — 54
Lake City 14 13 15 9 — 51
ROGERS-PUYALLUP — Johnson 0, Turco 8, Rios 12, Ni. Hansen 9, Iverson 1, Brannan 0, Barrett 18, Na. Hansen 6, Sawyer 0.
LAKE CITY — Irvin 6, Janke 2, Kiesbuy 7, Spellman 2, Johnson 7, Hanson 10, Mitchell 6, Sundstrom 2, Meredith 9.
Post Falls 65, Columbia River 44: Alex Horning scored 22 points for the Trojans (10-2) in a win over the Chieftains (4-3) of Vancouver, Wash.
Caden McLean scored 11 points, Colby Gennett had five points, six rebounds and two assists and Isaac Ballew had eight points for Post Falls, which held Columbia River to 24 points in the first three quarters.
“Today we had a much better defensive intensity,” said Post Falls coach Mike McLean, whose team won 60-52 against Rogers-Puyallup on Thursday. “Columbia River runs really good offensive sets, so we tried to press them a little and not let them run any of their good stuff. In the first half, we did a good job of dictating our will to them.”
Post Falls concludes the tournament today against Mead at 2 p.m.
Michael Foust scored 12 points for Columbia River, which faces Coeur d’Alene today at 11 a.m.
Post Falls 16 18 17 14 — 65
Columbia River 10 5 9 20 — 44
POST FALLS — Gennett 5, McLean 11, Wubbolding 2, Rodriguez 6, Peterson 0, Rutherford 5, Ballew 8, Lee 2, Horning 22, Shields 4.
COLUMBIA RIVER — Snook 3, Miller 7, Hjort 9, James 3, Parkin 4, Foust 12, Valdez 6, Miranda 0, Kukula 0.
Coeur d’Alene 67, Mead 55: Junior Owen Smith led five players into double figures with 14 points as the Vikings defeated the Panthers.
Mayson Whittaker and Luke McLaughlin added 13 points each for Coeur d’Alene (5-4). Brayden Bengtson scored 11 points, Alex Karns 10 for the Vikings.
“I was proud of the way we bounced back from yesterday,” Coeur d’Alene coach Tony Hanna said, referring to a 65-60 loss to Heritage of Vancouver, Wash. “I like seeing some of my guys starting to knock down shots, and step up to the free-throw line in pressure situations and knock down some of those. I thought it was a big confidence game for us.”
Senior Tyson Rogalette scored a game-high 22 points for Mead (5-4).
Hanna said the Vikings could get back senior guard Devon Johnson as soon as next week. Johnson tried to play through a small meniscus tear suffered during football season, but saw action in just two games before deciding to have surgery.
“He’s a big piece for us; he’s just so athletic,” Hanna said.
Coeur d’Alene wraps up tourney play today vs. Columbia River at 11 a.m.
Coeur d’Alene 24 13 14 16 — 67
Mead 18 13 10 14 — 55
COEUR d’ALENE — Whittaker 13, Bengtson 11, C. Smith 0, Larson 0, Karns 10, Cope 6, O. Smith 14, Prka 0, McLaughlin 13.
MEAD — Ty. Rogalette 22, Mulder 2, Gardner 2, Shott 6, Russell 4, Tr. Rogalette 0, Wenkheimer 13, Mount 2, Rieghard 4, Lorenz 0, Allen 0.