COEUR d’ALENE — An old sports axiom holds that it’s tough to beat a team three times, but nobody told the No. 1 seed Bulldogs, who handled their business against the No. 2 seed Bears in a 56-50 win during the first of a best two-out-of-three 4A Region 1 girls basketball tournament on Wednesday night at North Idaho College.
Grace Kirscher had it going from beyond the arc, draining six 3-pointers among her team-high 25 points, as the Bulldogs (13-8) won their third consecutive game over the Bears, with another one and possibly two more still to come.
“She’s not afraid of the moment. She was calm and comfortable, she kept us in the game the first quarter,” said Bulldog head coach Duane Ward. “Our kids just play tough. We rebounded pretty well, and closed out on their shooters well.”
Moscow (8-11) jumped out 12-6 early, but good things came in threes for the Bulldogs in the first, with Kirscher nailing three daggers, Dawson Driggs converting a 3-point play and Ciera Bailey making three free throws after getting fouled beyond the arc.
Bailey, who finished with 11 points, hit a floater at the buzzer to give the Bulldogs a three point halftime lead.
The Bears, who beat No. 3 seed Lakeland 39-30 on Monday in the loser-out game, closed to one early in the second half, before consecutive 3-pointers from Audrey Mattila and Trinity Golder built the lead back up for good. Gracey Meyer scored a game-high 31 points for the Bears in defeat.
“We had a tough time with Gracey Meyer, but kept the others under control,” said Ward, who felt the pace favored his team. “Moscow got tired, we kept trying to push the ball, and I think we tired them out. Our kids like to run, and make the other team run.”
Sandpoint will host Moscow in the second game of the championship series, Friday night at 6 p.m. at Les Rogers Court. A win and the Bulldogs are off to state, a loss and the two teams will tip it off once more on Saturday for the lone state berth.
Moscow 19 7 12 12 — 50
Sandpoint 15 14 18 9 — 56
MOSCOW — Watson 2, Rauch 2, Broyles 5, Meyer 31, Jung 6, Kitchel 2, Waters 0, Pilcher 0.
SANDPOINT — Kirscher 25, Driggs 6, Bailey 11, Laybourne 0, Kaul 2, Golder 9, Petit 0, Mattila 3, Morgan 0.