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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 


Friday — February 13, 2004

Sports

Wood River celebrates a district championship Tuesday night! Kneeling, from left, JV coach Mark Sauvageau, Jessica King, Syringa Stark, Alexa Alberdi, Jamie Stone and manager Josh Poe. Back, from left, head coach Brent Carnduff, Natalie Green, Liz Rippon, Emily Smith, Dawn Bird, Tiffany Wheeler, Nikki Calzacorta, Sydney Leopold, Laura Johnson, freshman coach Jennifer Boatwright and volunteer coach Katie Johnson. Express photo by David N. Seelig

 

Defense gives WRHS
its first state trip

Wolverine girls trounce
Declo 52-30 for SCIC crown


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

The long wait is over.

"We wanted to get it done," said Wood River senior point guard Emily Smith after her team’s 52-30 trouncing of the Declo Hornets in Tuesday’s Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference championship game on the Hailey hardwoods.

Winning its fifth straight game, coach Brent Carnduff’s #5-ranked Wood River (15-6) squad captured its first district girls’ basketball title in 24 years and earned its first-ever trip to the State 3A tourney—after 29 years of basketball.

The team’s top three scorers, all seniors, had terrific nights in their final game on the "Green House" floor.

All-time scoring leader Natalie Green (16.3 ppg) had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. Smith (6-for-6 free throws) added a season-high 18 points. Jessica King scored 11 points and had 9 rebounds.

Wood River (averaging 25.0 ppg better than opponents in its five-game win streak) out-rebounded Declo 31-17. They held Declo under double digits in each quarter, another first.

The tough Wolverine defense and a willingness to attack on offense, dive for loose balls and push the ball up the floor sparked the 22-point win over #9-ranked Declo (13-8).

Carnduff said, "We came out and played so well defensively in a very physical game."

Smith added, "We came in with a fired-up attitude and were ready to play from the beginning. We could tell early the referees were going to let us play—and it fired us up."

Declo, jumping out to a 16-7 first-quarter lead, had handed Wood River its only SCIC loss 52-47 back on Jan. 14 in Hailey. Wood River was determined to come out stronger this time.

Smith and Green each scored 6 points in the first period including back-to-back outside pops giving Wood River a 14-8 lead at the break. With King and Green jamming the middle, the Wolverine defense throttled Declo’s inside game.

Declo couldn’t get into a flow because of Wood River’s aggressive defense. By the second quarter, the Hornets were forcing their shots. They made only five field goals in the middle quarters and were outscored 23-13 in the second and third.

Carnduff said, "We switched up our defenses quite a bit, from man to zone. We didn’t want them to get into a rhythm." Smith added, "We wanted to keep Declo guessing so we gave them different looks on defense all the time."

Wood River took control of the game after halftime.

The Wolverines out-rebounded the Hornets 19-4 in the second half. They busted through traps to stymie the very physical Declo press. And the Wolverines made their free throws (14-for-17 in the second half, and 28-for-33 in their last two games against Declo).

By the fourth quarter, Declo’s train was off the tracks. When Smith went to the free throw line to swish two free throws with 20 seconds left, the crowd of 800 fans was literally on its feet, applauding.

"It feels so good—relief and satisfaction at the same time," said Carnduff, who started coaching many of the senior girls when they were in fifth grade. "They played with confidence. They came to believe in themselves. And they went out and played with intensity."

Maybe the shirts had something to do with it.

In the post-game ceremony, Smith and Tiffany Wheeler proudly stripped off their uniform shirts to reveal an undershirt on which was written, "Champs."

And then Wheeler suggested they do one more thing—and the winning team too turns cutting down the winning net for Wood River posterity.

Declo and Gooding (15-8) played Thursday night in Hailey to determine the SCIC’s second qualifier for the State 3A tourney Feb. 19-21 at Bishop Kelly High, Boise. Gooding eliminated Buhl 44-33 Tuesday.

The long-awaited district championship was particularly satisfying for one devoted Wood River fan—Hailey’s Jim King. King coached Wood River for five seasons from 1985-90 and lost many more games than he won, 13-79, including a painful 43-game winless streak.

After many nights of lopsided losses and long bus rides—what goes around, comes around. On Tuesday, King’s daughter Jessica was co-captain of Wood River’s first-ever state tournament team.

"It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling for everyone," said Carnduff, whose Wolverine teams over the last four years have a 58-32 (.645) record.

The first Wood River state game is against the Fifth District champion, likely last year’s state runner-up Marsh Valley of Arimo, on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 1:15 p.m. in Boise.

"We’re playing well. Hopefully we’ll go down to Boise and play our best and give ourselvese the best chance," said Carnduff. Tuesday’s results:

WR 52-30 over Declo: Natalie Green 20 points, Emily Smith 18, Jessica King 11, Tiffany Wheeler 3. Rebounds (31)—King 9, Syringa Stark 6, Green 6, Nikki Calzacorta 5, Smith 3. Steals—Green 4, Stark 2. Assists—Stark 4, Wheeler 4, Smith 3, Green 3, King 2. Blocked shots—Stark 2, Green 1. FT—14-17, 82%.

Season statsOffense—1048 points, 49.9 ppg. Defense—883 points, 42.0 ppg. Free throws—WR 201-312 (64%). Opposition—205-348 (59%). Top individual scorers—Natalie Green 343 points (16.3 ppg), 1071 career; Jessica King 252 (12.0 ppg), 572 career, within 6 points of #5 on the all-time list; Emily Smith 223 (10.6 ppg), 498 career, within 8 points of #7 on the all-time scoring list.


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