Wednesday, February 2, 2011

“Pack the Gym” for WRHS girls Thursday

Great Basin tournament home game

Wood River coach Mendy Ben-son gets into the game. Photo by David N. Seelig

     Back in the 1970s when Fred Trenkle coached a series of great, defensive-minded Wood River High School boys’ basketball teams, he made it a point to summon basketball fans for a “Pack the Gym” night each season when the Wolverines needed an extra boost against a tough foe.

     Coach Mendy Benson’s WoodRiver girls’ basketball team is fast falling into the category of a great defensive team that is challenging for a championship. So Thursday’s Great Basin Conference second-round game in Hailey would certainly qualify under “Pack the Gym” credentials.

     Seeded first in the six-team GBC tourney, Wood River (16-2, 36.9 ppg defense) will put its unbeaten homecourt record on the line Thursday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Tuesday’s first-round tourney game between #4-seeded Jerome (12-8) and #5-seeded Canyon Ridge of Twin Falls (7-13).

     WoodRiver (9-0 home) has a two-season 20-1 record at home. Benson constantly mentions the home crowd support as being crucial to the Hailey girls’ improving from a 5-16 record two years ago, to 17-7 last winter and now 16-2. The Wolverines are seeking only the second state tournament berth in the program’s 36 seasons.

     The Wolverines will stay at home as long as they keep winning in the double elimination tournament. At stake are two GBC berths for the State 4A tournament Feb. 17-19 at TimberlineHigh School in Boise. If WoodRiver wins Thursday, they’ll host another game Saturday, Feb. 5.

     Post-season tournament prices will be charged. WRHS Booster Card passholders who ordinarily get into games for free will pay $5 (adults) for admission. Students with activity cards will pay $4 and students without activity cards $5. Seniors 65-and-older and kids 6-and-under are free.

     Last Thursday, coming off huge GBC wins over Twin Falls and Jerome, WoodRiver (17 assists, 18 steals) finished its regular season shooting 58% from the field in a 57-36 non-conference victory at Buhl. Junior Kaitana Martinez (17.9 ppg) nearly had a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, 9 assists and 8 steals.

     Others were Haylee Thompson (15 points, 5 rebounds), Allie Hesteness (season-high 10 points, 4 steals), Haillie Taylor (season-high 10 points, 4 boards, 4 steals), Jade Glenn (season-high 9), Taylor Hayes (2 points) and Cheyenne Swanson (2 points).

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