Perhaps Jayson Ulrich’s concern that inconsistency will burden his team is a fallacy.
For the third time in three games, a resurgent third quarter propelled Ulrich’s Lewiston High School boys’ basketball team to a victory.
The Bengals rattled off 23 third-quarter points Wednesday, part of a 41-point second half that flipped a 29-24 halftime deficit to a 65-57 nonleague win against Moscow in the Orchards. Lewiston’s second-half alterations were key in earlier wins against Sandpoint and Timberlake, and the theme continued in game No. 3.
“That was the turning point in the game,” Moscow coach Josh Uhrig said. “They came out on fire and getting after it. They were the aggressor. We were on our heels.”
Lewiston (3-0) opened the third on a 6-0 run. Braydon Forsman finished a hoop through a foul to cap it, giving the Bengals a 30-29 lead and energizing the home sideline.
Moscow (1-1) scored the next five points to retake the lead at 34-30, but Lewiston outscored the Bears 17-4 the rest of the quarter to take a 47-38 lead into the fourth.
Moscow’s full-court defense coaxed Lewiston into turnovers and hurried shots early on. The Bears took advantage, leading 16-13 after the first quarter and 29-24 at the half.
But it was the Bengals who turned up the heat in the third. Lewiston’s full-court pressure and tough halfcourt defense led to stops and smooth transition offense. Forsman, Joel Mullikin, George Forsmann and Aiden Hottinger carved their way into the paint for high-percentage shots at the rim, usually resulting in two points or a pair of free throws.
“We had a great third quarter,” Ulrich said. “Moscow played really, really hard tonight and exposed some weaknesses in our team that we need to work on. We had way too many turnovers, way too many missed free throws. Hats off to Moscow. ... They’re always prepared and they always play hard, and I tried to warn our guys that, but we at least made a big run in that third, led into the fourth, got a couple more easy shots with some defense of our own.”
Moscow didn’t go away quietly in the fourth, cutting Lewiston’s lead to 48-46 with four consecutive points from post Tyler Skinner. The Bengals got hot after that, making five of their next six shots from the floor to reinforce their lead, 60-51.
Although Lewiston missed some game-sealing free throws down the stretch, Moscow couldn’t capitalize.
Uhrig lamented his team’s lack of physicality and rebounding prowess. He also second-guessed his decision to abandon the press that helped his team build its first-half advantage.
“In the first half, we were the aggressor, had them out of their comfort zone a little bit, and we wanted to set the tone early,” Uhrig said. “Jayson’s a good coach and I knew at halftime he was going to figure that out, so we decided not to do that (again), and maybe that’s a mistake on my part.”
Lewiston was the more efficient offensive team, shooting 44.2 percent to Moscow’s 37.3 percent from the field. Forsman led the charge with 18 points, becoming the Bengals’ third different player to lead the team in scoring this season.
The 6-foot-5 junior notched seven points in the first quarter and seven more in the fourth.
“Braydon brought it early and he finished well,” Ulrich said. “He had a really solid game.”
Forsmann (12) and Jace McKarcher (11) joined Forsman in double figures. Mullikin and Hottinger added nine points apiece. Skinner and Benny Kitchel led Moscow with 13 points each.
The Bears and Bengals will face off two more times during the regular season, and the next two count even more. This matchup between the Inland Empire League foes did not count toward the league standings.
“We got a lot better today, so I was glad to pick up this third game with Lewiston early in the season,” Uhrig said. “It gives us a good bearing on what we need to work on.”
Bryden Brown 1 0-0 3, Jamari Simpson 2 0-0 5, Barrett Abendroth 2 0-0 4, Sam Kees 3 1-3 8, Dylan Rehder 0 0-1 0, Cody Isakson 0 0-0 0, Kel Larson 0 0-0 0, Joe Colter 3 5-7 11, Benny Kitchel 3 5-5 13, Tyler Skinner 5 1-4 13. Totals 19 12-20 57.
Chanse Eke 1 2-4 5, Jace McKarcher 2 5-9 11, Joel Mullikin 4 0-0 9, Aiden Hottinger 3 2-2 9, Braydon Forsman 7 3-6 18, James White 0 0-0 0, Shadryn Goeckner 0 1-2 1, George Forsmann 6 0-0 12. Totals 23 13-23 65.
Moscow 16 13 9 19 — 57
Lewiston 13 11 23 18 — 65
3-point goals — Kitchel 2, Skinner 2, Brown, Simpson, Kees, McKarcher 2, Eke, Mullikin, Hottinger, Forsman.
Guernsey may be reached at email@example.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey.