In a game like this, there are few sure bets. But coach Jayson Ulrich thought he saw one.
The Lewiston High School boys’ basketball coach went into fist-pump mode even before Kash Lang’s 22-foot shot reached the basket. Sure enough, the 3-pointer sailed through the net to break a tie with 1:25 remaining Friday as the Bengals edged Coeur d’Alene 41-39 in the first round of the Idaho 5A district tournament.
“The kid’s done it all year,” Ulrich said of Lang. “I know he doesn’t light up the box scores or anything, but in the big moments he’s done it for us. I knew it was in.”
In another grind-it-out defensive battle, the second-seeded Bengals (13-7) avenged a frustrating 34-33 loss to the same team here a week earlier and landed a spot in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at top-seeded Post Falls, which advanced with a 60-46 win against No. 4 seed Lake City.
If the Bengals lose, they still can grab the district’s No. 2 berth to the state tournament by winning a loser-out home game. If that’s not necessary, this victory against Cd’A will go down as the high-school swan song for the Bengals’ longtime basketball venue, Booth Hall. The school is moving to its new location in the Lewiston Orchards next school year.
The Bengals are optimistically assuming they lowered the curtain on Booth with this one.
“We had a little magic on our side,” Ulrich said.
They needed it, having almost squandered a four-point lead in the waning moments. They were up 41-37 when the Vikings’ Cameren Cope scored off an alley-oop inbounds pass and drew a foul on George Forsmann with 2.8 seconds left. When Cope intentionally (and deftly) missed the free throw, teammate Jack Prka nabbed the rebound and, in the same motion, tried an awkward putback that bounced harmlessly off the rim.
“We were supposed to switch everything, and I forgot to call the screen for George,” Lang said. “That was on me.”
But Lang’s big 3, which had created a 38-35 Lewiston lead, proved to be the shot of the game.
“It felt really nice, because it was the first shot of mine to go in the whole game,” Lang said.
It forced Coeur d’Alene to start fouling, and although the Bengals didn’t always capitalize — they went 3-for-7 at the line in the final minute — Forsmann grabbed a key offensive rebound to extend a possession with 14 seconds left.
“Lang hit a huge shot for them,” Coeur d’Alene coach Tony Hanna said. “They’re tough because they’ve got some shooters and they’ve got some size. It was just a good battle. Both teams played hard.”
Jace McKarcher drilled two 3s in the first quarter and later converted an off-balance 6-footer while being fouled. His three-point play gave Lewiston a 34-31 lead with five minutes on the clock, and he finished with 10 points.
Cruz Hepburn’s 3 gave Lewiston a 10-point lead early in the second half before the Vikings (7-14) rallied behind Devon Johnson, who squeezed seven of his 22 points into the third quarter.
The stage was set for another tense final period in which every bucket loomed large.
“We knew what we were going to get,” Ulrich said. “We wanted to be the first team to get 40.”
COEUR D’ALENE (7-14)
Mayson Whittaker 0 0-0 0, Brayden Bengtson 0 0-0 0, Devon Johnson 7 4-4 22 20, Cooper Larson 0 0-0 0, Alex Karns 1 1-1 3, Cameren Cope 4 0-1 8, Owen Smith 0 0-0 0, Jack Prka 0 0-0 0, Luke McLaughlin 4 0-0 8. Totals 16 5-6 39.
Chanse Eke 2 3-3 8, Jace McKarcher 3 2-3 10, Kash Lang 1 0-0 3, James White 0 0-0 0, Joel Mullikin 1 4-8 6, Aiden Hottinger 0 0-0 0, Cruz Hepburn 1 3-5 5, Alec Eckert 0 0-0 0, Braydon Forsman 2 0-0 4, George Forsmann 2 0-0 4. Totals 12 12-19 41.
Coeur d’Alene 7 6 14 12—39
Lewiston 9 11 7 14—41
3-point goals — Johnson 2, Eke, McKarcher 2, Lang, Hepburn.
Grummert may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2290.