BLACKFOOT — The Snake River Lady Panthers built a double-digit first half lead and then held off a late charge by the Blackfoot Lady Broncos too complete the season sweep of the cross river rivals with a 47-43 victory on Saturday evening.
"I think that this win means a lot to the girls and certainly to the fans," Snake River head coach Steven Morton said. "For us, this was an important game but not nearly as important as our five remaining league games. It was a fun game that helps us be competitive in our league."
Both teams came out of the blocks either slow on the offensive end or on fire on the defensive end, depending upon you perspective with Snake River holding a slim 6-4 advantage after the first quarter of play.
Late in the first half Snake River heated up however. After a Madison Pilster three point play closed the score to 17-13, the Lady Panthers closed out the quarter on a 8-0 run, taking a 12-point bulge into the locker room for the break.
"Tonight we were able to get some open spots against their zone where we got open shots," coach Morton said. "There have been times this season when we haven't been able to make those shots but tonight our guards were able to put a lot of those open looks in which was the difference because we didn't have our best defensive night."
Out of the intermission, the game found a better flow offensively, with each team playing better on that end of the floor. Blackfoot was finally able to start hitting from behind the arc as Cerissa Honena canned 3 triples in the second half for 9 of her 12 points on the night.
Dusti Rodriguez and Madison Pilster also had strong second half performances, scoring several times on the low blocks as Blackfoot turned up the full court pressure in an attempt to wrestle the lead away from Snake River.
"We missed a lot of good easy shots that we normally would make in the first half," Blackfoot head coach Mike Kirkham said. "Snake River did a good job of adjusting to our defense which made us make another adjustment so from that standpoint it was a real fun game. I was a little concerned at half if the kids were going to show up in the second half so we challenged the kids and said look, you have all your friends and neighbors from around town here tonight so lets go out and get this thing done. I was real happy with the way that they responded, came back and tried to win the ball game."
The Lady Panthers were having none of that nonsense on this evening however, as the back court trio of Shayla Christensen, Alexa Lund and Whitney Dance simply would not be denied.
On three different occasions, the Lady Broncos cut the lead to 4-points. On three different occasion Christensen, Lund and Dance answered the challenge by stepping to the free throw line, where they each sank both charity tosses to keep the Blackfoot comeback attempt at arms length.
"I tell my guards that end game situations like we had tonight your going to get free throws and you can make the game interesting if you miss them or you can keep the game in hand if you make them and I think that my guards did a great job tonight," coach Morton said. "Those were huge because with the couple of turnovers we had this finish could have been even dicier than it already was, so kudos to my guards for stepping up."
Dance led the charge offensively for the Lady Panthers with 11 points and 6 assists while Lund was the leading rebounder on the night with 9 in the winning effort.
Blackfoot had a trio of players in double-digit scoring with Pilster leading the way with 15, followed by Honena's 12 and Rodriguez with 11. Rodriguez also snared 7 rebounds on the night.
Snake River (9-3,1-0) will return home on Tuesday evening when they host Aberdeen while Blackfoot (2-13, 0-6) will travel to Hillcrest on Wednesday evening. Both contests are scheduled for a 7:30 tip off.
SRHS 6 19 8 14 - 47
BHS 4 9 14 16 - 43
Snake River (47) - Alexa Lund 8, Shayla Christensen 4, Macy Martin 4, Whitney Dance 11, Eden Van Orden 7, Laura Thompson 7, Jocelyn Harper 6 rebounds (31) Lund 9, assists (11) Dance 6 FT - 15/29 3-pointers 0/5 fouls - 15 fouled out - Van Orden
Blackfoot (43) - Madison Pilster 15, Brielle Brower 3, Hannah Miller 2, Cerissa Honena 12, Dusti Rodriguez 11 rebounds (20) Rodriguez 7 assists (8) Pilster 3 FT - 6/10 3-pointers 5/18 Honena 4, Brower fouls - 25 fouled out - Brower, Rodriguez