You couldn't say the Wood River High School girls' varsity basketball team roared out of the starting gate in the first quarter of its 2010-11 home debut against Kimberly Tuesday.
Two points in the first four minutes and six points in the entire first quarter isn't a roar. Wood River coach Mendy Benson said, "Offensively, the first few minutes definitely looked like a first-game outing."
But once the talented Wolverines started lubricating their defense and getting their offense in gear, they went on a 17-5 second-quarter roll that turned into a 23-14 halftime lead. From there they coasted to a 49-32 non-conference win.
Wood River, bigger in size, out-rebounded the 'Dogs 29-16.
Three Wood River juniors scored in double figures—Kaitana Martinez (a game-high 16 points, 3 steals, 3 assists), Haylee Thompson (12 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals) and Cheyenne Swanson (11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocked shots).
Benson said, "I told the girls at halftime that our offense looked like a perfectly tuned engine, but one without any oil. Our timing and sharpness must be improved, but overall I thought we did a good job reading and reacting to each other.
"I was pleased with our first game, but we definitely have a long way to go before we are ready to achieve our goals."
Wood River continued on its 20-game regular-season journey Thursday at Filer. Next the Wolverines entertain Hillcrest of Idaho Falls Saturday, Nov. 20 for a 3:30 p.m. matinee at the high school gym in Hailey.
Although Kimberly with its seven seniors and tradition of excellence under coach Rich Bishop posed a challenge, the Bulldogs (1-1) didn't match up well against the Wood River height and all-around ability of Martinez. Kimberly (20-4 last year) has won three straight SCIC 3A tourney titles but graduated star Alex Pfefferle.
"They struggled with our size and KT's ability for sure as I hope teams will all season," said Benson about Kimberly.
"I think we need to work on involving our posts even more. Our posts scored most of their points off offensive rebounds when they should be scoring more out of our offense."
Her soccer stamina clearly evident, 5-6 guard Martinez scored nine of her 16 points in Tuesday's second-quarter explosion—starting with a good-looking 3-pointer off a Allie Hesteness steal that cut the biggest Bulldog lead to 12-9.
Senior guard Hesteness (3 points, 4 boards) tied it 12-12 with her own trey, from senior point guard Taylor Hayes (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists). Those two 3-pointers, Wood River's only two treys of the entire game, sparked a 17-2 run.
During the energetic comeback, Wood River's fierce man-to-man defense was a big factor in the nine Bulldogs turnovers during the second period.
Coach Benson said, "Defensively we played hard, but not always as smart or communicative as necessary. We had a great stretch in the second quarter and did a nice job of helping and rotating."
"We actually switched our defenses a little after the first quarter and then throughout the game because it didn't seem like Kimberly was shooting the ball all that well (34% on the night). Doing that was successful, I thought."
Others with solid minutes in Hailey's winning debut were senior Hunter Thompson, junior Haillie Taylor (2 steals), junior Cookie Benson (2 points) and junior Emmalie Dion. Leading Kimberly were Whitney Carlton (9 points), Kaitlyn Goetz (8 points, 4 boards) and Talya Murphy (6 points).