After just a few minutes, it became clear that neither team could afford any kind of dry spell. Lewiston and Post Falls were so neck-and-neck in the first half it felt like even the slightest drop-off might result in a significant deficit.

Out of the half, the Bengals suffered a two-minute lull. The visiting Trojans marched ahead on a 9-0 run, and never really fell victim to a drought of their own.

Lewiston couldn’t spring back, falling 57-45 on Friday in an Inland Empire League boys’ basketball contest in the Orchards.

Post Falls (6-3, 2-0) shot 54.2 percent from the floor against the Bengals’ 36.1 percent. The Trojans’ exceptionally balanced offense was a handful to combat.

“We were really efficient,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “Caden (McLean) got loose a couple of times, hit some 3s, then we start to feed it to Alex (Horning), and he gets loose a couple of times. Pretty soon, they’re cheating to Alex, and that opened the door for (Cole) Rutherford.”

The trio of third-year Trojan senior starters combined for 52 points on 18-for-29 from the field. Horning, a 6-foot-5 post, tallied 22; do-it-all guard McLean scored 17 and Rutherford tallied 13, 10 coming on layups off of penetrating bursts.

“They’ve got a lot of experience,” Lewiston coach Jayson Ulrich said of Post Falls, which graduated star Colby Gennett but returns the bulk of a roster that finished second at the Class 5A state tournament last year.

“They countered what we were doing defensively, and we couldn’t counter them. ... They do a great job of locking you up one-on-one. They’re tough that way, they’re physical and can pretty much play any style.”

The Bengals (6-3, 3-3) committed only five turnovers, but shot 15-for-24 from the foul line and 4-for-17 from 3-point range, missing a handful of clean looks after the break. Lewiston was 9-for-16 in the first half before knocking down only one field goal in the third period.

Senior post George Forsmann (13 points) was Lewiston’s only double-figure scorer. Junior Braydon Forsman tacked on eight points and senior Joel Mullikin added seven and two leaping blocks.

Post Falls put enough pressure on the Bengals’ backcourt to neutralize some of the sets Lewiston’s offense sought to get into, Mike McLean noted.

“Jayson does such a great job with those quick hitters. We had to make them uncomfortable,” he said.

Long balls from Horning and James Lee kick-started the third-quarter surge that ended with Post Falls up 39-25. It was somewhat of a surprising turn of events, considering the opponents had traded the lead four times throughout an energetic and entertaining first half.

Five Bengals scored in the first quarter, but the spread-out attack wouldn’t last as Lewiston fell behind by double digits in a blink and had to speed up its offense.

“Don’t get me wrong, the kids busted their butts tonight. I’m proud of their effort, but we’ve gotta make some little changes,” Ulrich said.

POST FALLS (6-3, 2-0)

Jaxon Anderson 0 1-2 1, Caden McLean 5 4-4 17, Tommy Hauser 0 0-2 0, Riley Peterson 0 0-0 0, Cole Rutherford 5 3-5 13, Isaac Ballew 0 1-2 1, Jack Sciortino 0 0-0 0, James Lee 1 0-0 3, Alex Horning 8 4-4 22, Josiah Shields 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 13-19 57.

LEWISTON (6-3, 3-3)

Chanse Eke 1 3-4 5, Jace McKarcher 1 0-0 3, Kash Lang 1 2-4 4, Joel Mullikin 2 2-4 7, Aiden Hottinger 1 2-2 4, Cruz Hepburn 0 1-2 1, Braydon Forsman 3 0-2 8, James White 0 0-0 0, Shadryn Goeckner 0 0-0 0, George Forsmann 4 5-6 13. Totals 13 15-24 45.

Post Falls 18 12 13 14—57

Lewiston 17 8 7 13—45

3-point goals — McLean 3, Horning 2, Lee, Forsman 2, McKarcher.

JV — Lewiston def. Post Falls.

GIRLSPost Falls 39, Lewiston 31

An otherwise solid defensive outing was overshadowed by a cold-shooting start, as Lewiston got into a double-digit hole early and couldn’t muster enough firepower to claw out of it with a late rally.

Post Falls cashed in turnovers for buckets, building a maintainable lead in the first quarter of an IEL win.

“We did a good job on our full-court trapping stuff, then they made some adjustments and we didn’t adjust to those adjustments,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said. “We got easy buckets in transition that we didn’t get in the second half.”

The Trojans (6-3, 4-2) turned four takeaways into a 9-0 lead after five minutes. Their swarming defense and passing-lane pick-offs rattled the Bengals (3-7, 1-6), who pestered Post Falls’ shooters as well.

“We’ve gotta play a complete game,” Bengals coach Karlee Wilson said. “... It’s a different game if we get a couple more stops in transition, and that comes from putting in a couple more buckets — then they don’t get those runouts and easy layins.”

Senior Amelia Foss rattled in a 3-pointer at the 2:50 mark of the first for Lewiston’s first points.

Emma Hill hit a second-chance jumper and Emily Collins converted a tough layin through traffic to hold the deficit at 11 going into halftime.

Rebounding helped keep it relatively tight, yet the Bengals might have been closer if “we put some of those bunnies in off our offensive boards,” Wilson said.

Lewiston picked up some momentum midway through the fourth quarter. A Hill jumper in the lane capped a 13-4 spurt that cut the Post Falls lead to seven points with 2:40 to play.

“We weren’t looking to pass on drives; we were looking to score,” Wilson said of the turnaround. “And getting stops. We were pulling down rebounds, and being able to control the tempo on the defensive end, I think that was the big switch.”

From there, Lewiston forced three turnovers, but didn’t score again. Trojan guard Dylan Lovett finished a layup off a cross-court pass with a minute to go to cap it.

“Lewiston did a good job of taking us out of some things,” Allert said. “They put some pressure on us, played really hard and scrappy.”

Both teams shot about 30 percent from the floor. No players posted double-figure scoring outputs, but the Trojans had four tally seven or more points. Lewiston was led by Foss’ seven points. Juniors Emily Collins and Taryn Barney chipped in six apiece.

POST FALLS (6-3, 4-2)

Skilar McLean 0 0-2 0, Trinidie Nichols 3 0-0 7, Dylan Lovett 3 2-2 8, Ashley Grant 3 1-1 7, Capri Sims 3 3-5 9, Montana Buckley 0 3-4 3, Americus Crane 0 0-0 0, Brielle Magnuson 0 0-4 0, Kaysha Walton 0 0-0 0, Maya Blake 1 1-3 3, Hanna Christensen 1 0-0 2. Totals 14 10-21 39.

LEWISTON (3-7, 1-6)

Emily Collins 2 1-5 6, Ahnika U’Ren 1 0-0 2, Amelia Foss 3 0-0 7, Emma Hill 2 0-2 4, Eliza Bursch 0 0-0 0, Taryn Barney 2 2-2 6, Jenika Ortiz 1 0-2 2, Zoie Kessinger 0 0-0 0, Sydney McRoberts 2 0-0 4, Karli Taylor 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 3-11 31.

Post Falls 15 9 9 6—39

Lewiston 5 8 6 12—31

3-point goals — Nichols, Foss.

JV — Post Falls def. Lewiston.

Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 627-3209.