SANDPOINT — Don’t call it a comeback.
The Bulldogs (16-7) overcame a 4 point fourth quarter deficit to take down rival Lakeland 48-44 in Game 2 of the best-of-3 4A Region 1 championship series Friday night to bring the district title back to Sandpoint and earn a trip to state.
Players were hugging each other, Les Rogers Court was roaring and nets were being cut down after the Bulldogs secured the title. It was pure jubilation and head coach Will Love couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s awesome,” Love said about earning the title of league champs. “We finished 5-15 last year, didn’t go to state, the kids were really disappointed and credit to them they worked hard throughout the summer and these last four months. They’ve been doing everything that we’ve asked and I’m just really happy for everybody that’s been involved with helping us get here.”
All season the team has been motivated by missing out on the postseason in 2019 and Love wanted to make sure he gave this group of seniors the proper send off.
“I didn’t want this experience to end,” Love said. “We were talking last night that this could be our last practice with this group and that kind of hit the kids ... and then I said let’s make our last practice next week instead. I’m excited we get another week together.”
Trailing 33-29 entering the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were looking for someone to step up in the face of adversity and who better than senior Maddie Morgan, who was the star of Wednesday’s Game 1.
Held scoreless in the first three quarters, everyone including Lakeland head coach Steve Seymour knew that Morgan was going to find her shot at some point and she did. With the score at 33-31, Morgan hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a 30 second span to put the Bulldogs up 37-33.
From there, Sandpoint was able to maintain that cushion and a steal from freshman Kelsey Cessna and three free throws from junior Kaylee Banks in the final minute helped seal the win.
Cessna sparked the Bulldogs in the second quarter after they found themselves in a 15-6 hole early and she finished with a team-high 13 points, four steals and three assists. Junior Hattie Larson had 11 points, senior Dawson Driggs added 8 points and seven rebounds, and Banks tallied 5 points and five assists.
Lakeland’s Katy Ryan gave Sandpoint fits all night and finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Early on things didn’t look so good for Sandpoint but somehow, someway they found a way to prevail and avoid a dreaded winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday.
“It was a grinder for sure and it could’ve gone the other way easily because Katy [Ryan] had a great game and we just couldn’t stop her,” Love said.
Sandpoint will take on Burley in the first round of the 4A state tournament 5:15 p.m. PST Thursday at Timberline High School in Boise.
Lakeland 15 5 13 11 — 44
Sandpoint 6 18 5 19 — 48
LAKELAND — Boyer 0, Tingey 0, McDevitt 0, Neff 2, Ryan 18, Hostetler 0, Loutzenhiser 10, Kiefer 9, Woempner 0, Calvert 0, Simon 2, Huddleston 3.
SANDPOINT — Cessna 13, Day. Driggs 0, Morgan 9, Daw. Driggs 8, Edwards 0, Steiger 0, Phillips 2, Larson 11, Platte 0, Banks 5.