POCATELLO — A fifth district tournament crown was on the line at Highland High School Tuesday evening as the Snake River Lady Panthers and the Marsh Valley Lady Eagles squared off for the rubber match of their season series.
During the regular season, the team split with one another and Tuesday nights contest was as competitive as the regular season was but in the end, Marsh Valley was a shade better on Tuesday as they took the title away from Snake River with a 49-36 victory.
"We don't feel that we gave this game away tonight by any means," Snake River head coach Steven Morton said. "Marsh Valley did a great job of flexing their muscle and out played us for the win."
The game for all intents and purposes was a dead heat save for a pair of four minute stretches that proved troublesome for the Lady Panthers and their fans.
The first stretch occurred at the onset of the game with Snake River turning the ball over on their first four offensive possessions.
Meanwhile, Marsh Valley was able to dial long distance for a pair of treys and then added a bucket down low for a quick 8-0 lead.
"We dug ourselves a little deep to start and they hit some outside shots that we kind of knew that they were going to get because of what we needed to do on Sarah Viehweg." coach Morton said.
Snake River battled back however, chipping away at the Marsh Valley lead, eventually pulling to within four points at 6:45 of the fourth quarter, courtesy of a three ball from Shayla Christensen and then a bucket on the low blocks by Eden Van Orden.
That was as close as the Lady Panthers could get however, despite some fine work on the defensive end as the well went dry on the offensive end of the floor.
"The critical point I think was when we got it down to four there in the fourth quarter," coach Morton said. "We were able to get stops on the next three or four defensive possessions but we didn't get anything on the offensive end and even though the score doesn't show it, I think that this was really just a 3 or 4 possession game with that little swing right there that was the game."
Marsh Valley took advantage of the untimely offensive slump by Snake River, riding the back of their big center Sarah Veihweg who tallied 25-points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Lady Panthers.
"She is difficult and makes me have to do some things defensively that we don't want to do with double teams which lead to some quick rotations which puts us out of position sometimes but then again if you single cover her your done," coach Morton said. "Kudos to her though, she may be the best player that I've seen in the three years I've been here in this league."
The Lady Eagles closed out the game on a 13-4 run with most of those points coming from the charity stripe where they shot 15 of 16, all of those in the second half.
"I have to give them credit with their free throw shooting down the stretch," coach Morton said. "I haven't seen a girls basketball game with a team stroking it at the end like that in a long time."
A berth in the state tournament is still not out of reach for Snake River but first they must beat Bear Lake on Thursday in a game to be played at Highland High School at 5:30 P.M.
"We have a pretty resilient team, they're pretty mature and I think that they will bounce back just fine." said coach Morton.
SRHS 6 6 15 9 - 36
MVHS 14 10 12 13 - 49
Snake River - Alexa Lund 7, Shayla Christensen 6, Whitney Dance 4, Eden Van Orden 13, Jocelyn Harper 6; rebounds (30) Alexa Lund 9; assists (11) Alexa Lund 4; FT - 7/10; 3PT - 3/15 (Shayla Christensen 2, Alexa Lund 1) fouls - 14 fouled out - Alexa Lund
Marsh Valley - Kami Hansen 5, Shaylyn Brown 8, Amanda Marshall 6, Desire Hall 3, Megan Gunter 2, Jessica Dunn 2, Sarah Viehweg 25; rebounds (20) Sarah Viehweg 13; assists (7) Desire Hall 3; FT - 15/16; 3PT - 2/11 (Kami Hansen 1, Desire Hall 1) fouls - 13 fouled out - none