POCATELLO â€” The Snake River Lady Panthers had their chances in their 3A fifth district championship game with Marsh Valley on Wednesday evening and it's hard to say what the biggest difference was in the final 37-36 outcome but in the end, that difference was as small as it could get as the Lady Eagles continued their undefeated run through the season with the one point victory at Pocatello High School.
"Obviously Marsh Valley is a pretty good team and there is a reason that they are 22-0," Snake River head coach Rich Dunn said. "They are where we want to be but in the three games that we have played against them, the final score has been by a combined 12 points. Hopefully we can face them again in the state championship game because I believe that it would be a great testament to two great basketball teams."
Indeed, the match up between the top two 3A teams in the state was as intense a game as anyone could have hoped for as the two teams turned on their vaunted defenses against each other.
Marsh Valley was able to build a 23-13 lead midway through the third quarter of play but the game was far from over at that point.
Madison Pilster ignited the Panther offense with a three ball with two minutes remaining in the third quarter and Scout Baldwin trimmed the lead to five at 23-18 with a steal and a driving lay up with :25 remaining in the quarter.
"We came out strong with our defensive effort just like we have all year," Coach Dunn said. "I really thought that we picked it up even more in the second half and I don't think that this team left anything on the floor tonight."
The comeback effort continued into the fourth quarter as the Lady Panthers simply made a living at the free throw line.
Time and time again, Shayla Christensen drove through the Marsh Valley defense, was fouled and then calmly sank her free throws. Christensen finished the fourth quarter a perfect 8 for 8 from the charity stripe in the final quarter as she finished as the games leading scorer with 18 points.
"No body can every question Shayla's toughness or her desire to win," Coach Dunn said. "She brings that same mentality every night and we will need that tomorrow against Bear Lake."
Snake River eventually took their first lead since a 2-0 lead in the first quarter when Christensen drilled a pair of charity tosses with 4:51 remaining.
The two teams then traded the lead six times over the last half of the fourth quarter including a dramatic trade of three point baskets by Jessica Dunn and Macy Martin.
Marsh Valley got the win courtesy of a free throw however as their leading scorer on the year, Sara Viehweg was fouled with :03 remaining on the clock. Viehweg, who scored just 2 points on the night was good on 1 of 2 free throws, which proved to be good enough for the win.
"Viehwag is a great player but in our three games against her our post players have done a great job against her," Coach Dunn said. "I have to give credit to our defense. We just don't back down against anyone."
Snake River will look to keep their season alive when they play Bear Lake at 5:00 today. The game will be at Highland High School.
MARSH VALLEY 37, SNAKE RIVER 36
SNAKE RIVER 6 3 9 18 - 36
MARSH VALLEY 8 10 5 14 - 37
Snake River (36) - Shayla Christensen 18, Madison Pilster 6, Macy Martin 5, Max Shelly 6, Scout Baldwin 2, Cassie Albertson 2, Jocelyn Harper 5, Brylie Bair 2. FG: 9. FT: 18/24. 3-pointers 2 (Martin, Pilster). Fouls: 17. Fouled out: (Shelly).
Marsh Valley (37) - Kami Hansen 2, Shaylyn Brown 13, Josie Thompson 10, Amanda Marshall 2, Jessica Dunn 6, Paige Howell 2, Sara Viehweg 2. FG: 14. FT: 7/17. 3-pointers (Dunn). Fouls: 19. Fouled out: (none)