Sandpoint boys basketball tips off season tonight

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(Photo by DYLAN GREENE) Senior Brandon Casey goes up for a contested layup during two-on-one drills at a practice on Nov. 22 at Les Rogers Court.

Sandpoint boys basketball begins its journey for a league title 7 p.m. tonight at St. Maries.

The Bulldogs have spent all offseason working to get better and they are ready to show that this team can take the next step.

Last week Sandpoint took on Post Falls and Lake City in a jamboree, giving the team valuable playing time against two tough 5A schools.

Second year head coach Wade Engelson said he was pleased with what he saw from his team at the jamboree.

“I thought it was very beneficial for us,” he said. “We did some things very well and it showed us some things that we need to work on and we look at it as an organized practice session where you kind of tryout stuff on other teams.”

And what are those things that Engelson thinks the team needs to improve on? Execution, one of the core principles of the program that Engelson is trying to instill, and decision making.

Engelson said Lake City and Post Falls defenses didn’t break down right away and forced Sandpoint to try and execute at a higher level and the Bulldogs struggled a little bit doing that.

But having the opportunity to compete against players in a different colored jersey prior to the grind of the basketball season is something Engelson believes will be beneficial to his players throughout the year.

Engelson hopes this experience will allow the Bulldogs to get off to a fast start early in the season and not stumble out of the gates.

“It’s what I call a big head start for us,” he said.

It won’t be an easy season opener for the Bulldogs though who will take on a St. Maries team that lost in the 2A state championship game last season.

Engelson knows his team won’t be perfect Thursday night, but the Bulldogs need to be focused if they want to compete with the Lumberjacks.

“St. Maries has an excellent basketball program,” he said. “Even though they are a smaller school, they’re always in the hunt for state championships. They’re going to provide a stiff challenge for us and we have to play at a high level if we expect to be successful.”

You can watch the game at nfhsnetwork.com.

The Bulldogs host their home opener 7 p.m. Friday against Shadle Park at Les Rogers Court.

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