GENESEE — Lapwai wasn’t in peak form in a matchup of top-five girls’ basketball teams at the Class 1A Division I level. Small-school programs across the Gem State should probably feel a bit intimidated, because the Wildcats still didn’t have a ton of trouble.
Lapwai found its flow in the second quarter, held Whitepine League rival Genesee to five points in the third and steadily piled onto its lead to claim a state semifinal rematch Saturday on the Palouse, sprinting past the Bulldogs 77-51.
The defending state champion Wildcats, who downed fellow 1ADI notable Genesee by 11 points at State in 2020, remain the team to beat in the classification. They’re 12-0 overall and 7-0 in league play.
To stay unblemished, Lapwai snapped free from a tight game, using a 15-4 run early in the second. The Wildcats shot 7-for-27 from the field in a first period where the lead never was more than a possession away.
But Ciahna Oatman and Grace Sobotta swished quick 3-pointers to start the second. Glory Sobotta followed with a tough, classic three-point play, then Jordan Shawl scored a putback off an offensive rebound.
“I think we were a little tired (early), then in the second we started to pick it up,” said sophomore guard Lauren Gould, who carved up the Bulldogs’ interior defense for 23 points (10-for-23), adding nine rebounds, five steals and four assists. “We were trying to move the ball around to get the open shots, instead of the forced ones.”
In a flash, the Wildcats led by 15 points. They stacked up 27 in the period and mostly would cruise from there as Genesee (8-2, 6-2) couldn’t match Lapwai’s pace or volume of shots.
Gould tallied back-to-back transition finishes off of steals and netted a 3 during a three-minute tear out of the half that concluded with Lapwai up 24 points.
The high-speed Wildcats shot 33-for-86 from the field against a 13-for-54 mark for the Bulldogs, who hit 22 of their 33 free-throw attempts.
“The last few games it’s taken us a little to get going. We’ve had spurts of throwing the ball away,” second-year Lapwai coach Ada Marks said. This one was heavy on giveaways, with both teams committing more than 30.
“We cleaned it up a bit, so (the Bulldogs) weren’t getting any runs. Our girls were talking a little better in the second half, and overall, they did a better job at handling pressure.”
Omari Mitchell chipped in 10 points; Glory Sobotta had nine and eight rebounds; Jordyn McCormack-Marks finished with eight points, six assists and seven steals; and Grace Sobotta contributed seven points and nine boards to the Wildcats’ balanced effort.
“They’re all go-to players. That’s the great thing about this team,” Marks said. “If we need a score, we have all those options. ... They’ve really bought into team ball.”
The Wildcats outrebounded Genesee 46-35, a trend Bulldogs coach Greg Hardie highlighted as crucial in the outcome.
“The more physical the game is played, the advantage goes to (Lapwai),” he said, pointing out a first-quarter possession in which the Wildcats nabbed five offensive boards before scoring.
Genesee was paced by three double-figure scorers in senior post Claira Osborne (15 points), senior guard Bailey Leseman (11) and sophomore guard Isabelle Monk (10). Monk had nine rebounds, Osborne pulled down eight and Makenzie Stout picked up five steals.
“I wasn’t unhappy; I thought we played hard. ... We just had to answer their runs and create some of our own,” Hardie said. “We were doing that during that (early) stretch, then they got away from us. It came down to us turning it over and giving them too many opportunities.”
LAPWAI (12-0, 7-0)
Grace Sobotta 3 0-0 7, Jordyn McCormack-Marks 3 1-5 8, Glory Sobotta 3 2-3 9, Alexis Herrera 0 0-0 0, Soa Moliga 2 0-0 4, Ciahna Oatman 3 0-0 7, Lauren Gould 10 2-2 23, Kahlees Young 3 0-0 7, Omari Mitchell 5 0-0 10, Jordan Shawl 1 0-0 2. Totals 33 5-10 77.
GENESEE (8-2, 5-2)
Taylor Mayer 1 4-4 7, Bailey Leseman 1 9-12 11, Lucie Ranisate 0 2-5 2, Makenzie Stout 2 2-4 6, Kami Lockler 0 0-0 0, Shelby Hanson 0 0-0 0, Claira Osborne 6 3-6 15, Isabelle Monk 3 2-2 10, LaShonda Bunte 0 0-0 0, Sarah Vestal 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 22-33 51.
Lapwai 17 27 13 17—77
Genesee 14 16 5 16—51
3-point goals — Gr. Sobotta, McCormack-Marks, Gl. Sobotta, Oatman, Gould, Young, Monk 2, Mayer.
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