Karlee Wilson can feel confident in how her team is adapting to a new style, even if the layers haven’t all come together yet in these early stages of the coach’s program rebuild.
Lewiston’s girls’ basketball team played well on the defensive foundation established by Wilson, but was foiled by a stretch of offensive slippage during a 46-39 loss to Class 5A Inland Empire League adversary Lake City on Wednesday in a fan-less gym in the Orchards.
“They’re buying into what I’m trying to do here, with being defensive-minded and stopping the player you’re guarding, just having that mentality a little more than they’re used to,” said Wilson, the first-year coach and former Lewiston and University of Idaho point guard known for hustle plays on that end. “They’re having to learn on the fly. We’re getting there. It’s still early in the season, so there’s room to grow.”
The Bengals (1-1) were heedful of Wilson's direction, swarming and trapping with pizazz in the first and fourth quarters, and limiting the Timberwolves from Coeur d’Alene (1-0) to four points in those periods.
But a turnover bug bit an up-tempo Lewiston offense in the second, giving way to an explosive eight-minute surge from Lake City, which shot 7-of-11 and did almost all of its damage in the span with transition buckets.
The Wolves popped for 26 points in the second, an onslaught beginning right after a first quarter defined by the home side’s halfcourt defense.
“No matter how big or strong you are, you can still play really good defense,” Wilson said. “If we can keep getting them to buy into that, we’ll be a really good team.”
The Bengals were stymied by an aggressive full-court Lake City press. They committed five consecutive turnovers in one stretch, allowing for a 15-point Timberwolf lead — the contest’s largest — with about three minutes to play until the break.
A 10-0 second-quarter spurt from Lake City saw Jaya Miller and Sophia Zufelt hit back-to-back 3s. The Wolves had begun to escape the Bengals’ tight challenges in the middle periods, finding downcourt running lanes off of giveaways or small windows to dish out to sharpshooters.
“I think our defensive pressure finally got to them a little bit and we got some easier opportunities,” Lake City coach James Anderson said. “We didn’t shoot the ball great, except in the second quarter, and we shot exceptionally well in the second.”
Although Lewiston lit up enough on the scoring side to keep creeping back in, it seemed the Bengals’ earlier setback would be too much to completely overcome.
The closest they got was 38-33 late in the third, when point guard Emily Collins went on a personal tear, scoring eight points in about three minutes and getting a boost from post Katy Wessels, who had a strong block and a pair of close-range jumpers during the run.
“We made an adjustment at halftime based on helping on the drives and down low, and it was leading to more breakouts,” Wilson said. “Just being in attack-mode and putting them in a little pressure helped us.”
Collins knocked down three 3s and sparked Lewiston often, totaling 13 points.
“She’s getting her confidence, big-time,” Wilson said.
Wessels tacked on 10 points but had her late minutes limited by foul trouble. Taryn Barney snagged 12 rebounds, and Lewiston had a nice night on the offensive boards with 20.
Reigning co-league MVP Brooklyn Rewers, a Timberwolf post, was held to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, mostly scoring in response to a heating-up Bengal attack. Zufelt added nine to share the Lake City lead.
Both teams’ pressure negated offensive rhythm in the fourth, and Lake City maintained an edge to the finish. Lewiston had only tallied one point in the quarter until the final two minutes, but its defense kept it close.
“It’s a different vibe,” Anderson said of his opponents, who his team beat handily three times last season. “They were active all over the place on defense. She’s got them playing really, really hard.”
LAKE CITY (1-0, 1-0)
Kendall Pickford 1 3-4 5, Jaya Miller 2 0-0 6, Sophia Zufelt 4 0-2 9, Allie Barman 1 0-0 2, Ashlynn Shanley 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Rewers 4 0-4 9, Tanai Jenkins 0 2-4 2, Haily Jo Parks 1 6-6 8, Brenna Hawkins 2 1-1 5. Totals 15 12-21 46.
LEWISTON (1-1, 0-1)
Emily Collins 4 2-4 13, Ahnika U’Ren 0 1-2 1, Amelia Foss 3 0-0 7, Emma Hill 0 0-0 0, Eliza Bursch 0 0-0 0, Katy Wessels 4 2-4 10, Taryn Barney 3 0-2 6, Jenika Ortiz 0 0-0 0, Sydney McRoberts 0 0-0 0, Karli Taylor 0 2-4 2. Totals 14 7-16 39.
Lewiston 7 13 15 4—39
Lake City 4 26 12 4—46
3-point goals — Collins 3, Foss, Miller 2, Zufelt, Rewers.
JV — Lewiston 35, Lake City 33.
Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 848-2260.