Two weeks of solid progress doesn't make a season, but Wood River's learning curve since Dec. 4 has been a source of satisfaction for first-year Hailey girls' varsity basketball coach Mendy Benson.
"It's a wonderful Christmas present—three straight wins going into the holiday," said Benson Friday about Wood River's very respectable three-game winning streak going into the 2008 Christmas break.
The Wood River girls (3-8 overall, 2-5 away) made it three consecutive victories Thursday night with a 34-30 overtime victory at Gooding in a non-conference contest. Freshman guard Kaitana Martinez scored 12 of her team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime for Hailey.
"Our shooting was colder than cold for three quarters, 15% from the field, but we shot well in the fourth quarter. We were getting great looks, just not making our shots. But we actually came back to win after being down seven," Benson said.
Junior Monica Garceau (8 points) "played phenomenally" in the second half, the coach added. "Her energy and intensity sparked us in overtime, when she had four of the nine points we scored in OT," she added.
The win capped two weeks of improvement that started with a close 52-49 home league loss to Minico Dec. 4 and a 37-33 OT loss at Buhl Dec. 6 plus Wood River's 36-26 home win over Pocatello Dec. 13 that snapped a 16-game losing streak.
Currently, the Wolverines are averaging three points a game more than last year's team and holding other teams to six fewer points.
Wolverine senior Sam Engel (2 points) did a great job on the boards with eight rebounds in the second half. Senior Angela Coleman (4 points) gave the Wolverines some nice energy off the bench, Benson said. Junior Grace Lagodich (3 points) and sophomore guard Taylor Hayes (1) chipped in to the attack.
Benson said, "I thought we were a better team, but Gooding played a little better in the first quarter and got off to an 8-4 lead. We played them evenly in the second and third quarters and out-played them in the fourth, with a 13-9 advantage.
"We were trying to press and pick up the tempo but we just weren't getting a lot of scoring. We did get them to rush their offense a little, and also were 9-for-18 from the free throw line for the game," she said.
The Wolverines return to action Saturday, Jan. 6 at home against Mountain Home (4-7, 1-5 away). The host Tigers jumped to a 31-8 halftime lead and crushed Wood River 43-20 on Nov. 22. Four of their first five games are at home in January.