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Firth girls dominate Melba to reach 2A title game

February 22, 2014

The Firth Lady Cougars celebrate their 57-35 victory over Melba in the semifinals of the 2A state basketball tournament Kuna High School Friday night.

KUNA — The Firth and Ririe girls basketball programs are all too familiar with each other, playing each other four times this season with a 2-2 result. Today at the Idaho Center in Nampa, the tiebreaker doesn't get any bigger: the Cougars and Bulldogs meet for the Class 2A state championship.

Both Firth and Ririe won in Friday's championship semifinal games, with the Cougars dominating another group of Bulldogs, the ones from Melba, in a 57-35 rout that seemed to be decided halfway through the first quarter.

The Cougars opened the game with a 13-1 run, not allowing Melba to score anything more than a free throw for the first five minutes. Seniors Kayla Jensen and Rachel Schiess led a defensive charge that ruined Melba's passing game and ability to move the ball down court.

"We scouted them last night, and coach said if we put pressure on them, they're not very good ball handlers," Jensen said.

During the first half, Jensen and Schiess combined for seven of Firth's eight steals, often taking the ball away from Melba players under the Cougars' basket. Full-court presses and traps further frustrated the Bulldogs throughout the game and limited their scoring opportunities. Melba's offense sputtered, with the team hitting only 26 percent of attempts from the field.

"I love pressing," Schiess said, "because we can get steals, work together, and make things happen."

Firth capitalized on those 21 takeaways, scoring 20 points off turnovers.
Jensen led Firth with 19 points and six rebounds, Bailey Nelson contributed 10 points and five boards, while Jacee Jensen added nine points. Firth sank 36.8 percent of shots from the field and 42.9 percent from the free-throw line.

Today's rematch of District VI champion Firth and runner-up Ririe is scheduled for a 1:40 p.m. tip off. Ririe defeated Cole Valley Christian of Meridian 48-30 in Friday's other semifinal game.

"We know each other very well," said Firth coach Sharla Cook. "The good thing is we know them very well, and the bad thing is they know us very well. There's not a lot of secrets. It'll come down to who executes better."

Class 2A girls state tournament
Championship semifinal
Firth 57, Melba 35
Melba 7 10 14 4 — 35
Firth 15 10 16 16 — 57
MELBA: Janey Reeves 5-16 3-4 13, Sierra Manzer 2-8 1-3 6, Emily Dyas 1-2 1-1 3, McKelle Leavitt 0-2 3-5 3, Katie Trappett 1-3 0-0 2, Nicole Hoagland 1-3 0-0 2, Anysja Manzer 0-5 0-0 0, Kara Leavitt 1-2 1-2 3, Randee Schlapia 1-5 1-2 3. Totals 12-46 10-17 35.
FIRTH: Brittana Spencer 2-6 0-1 4, Kayla Jensen 7-16 5-6 19, Bailey Nelson 2-11 6-7 10, Ashley Carpenter 1-3 0-0 2, Jacee Jensen 3-6 0-2 9, Natalie Jolley 0-2 0-0 0, Rachel Schiess 1-4 0-0 2, Shelby Pfeifer 1-3 0-0 2, Jordyn Park 1-2 0-0 2, Ashley Sanders 3-4 1-2 7. Totals 21-57 12-18 57.
3-point goals: Melba 1-12 (S. Manzer 1-1, Reeves 0-2, M. Leavitt 0-1, K. Trappitt 0-1, A. Manzer 0-4, Schlapia 0-3), Firth 3-7 (J. Jensen 3-4, Jolley 0-1, Schiess 0-2). Rebounds: Melba 35 (Reeves 9), Firth 39 (K. Jensen 6, Schiess 6). Fouls: Melba 14, Firth 18. Assists: Melba 3, Firth 9 (J. Jensen 3). Turnovers: Melba 21, Firth 14. Blocks: Melba 3, Firth 0. Steals: Melba 6 (S. Manzer 3), Firth 8 (K. Jensen 4, Schiess 4).

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