SANDPOINT — With five varsity players out, it would have been easy for Sandpoint boys basketball to lay down against Shadle Park, but that’s not what Bulldogs do.
A short handed Sandpoint team used a 9-3 run down the stretch to secure a 65-58 victory over Shadle Park and their first win of the season.
Head coach Wade Engelson was looking for his players to up their intensity after a season opening loss Thursday at St. Maries. And the Bulldogs certainly did that Friday night.
“What a difference a night makes,” Engelson said. “We came out today focused. You saw everybody that got on the court just battle. They gave everything they had every possession.”
From the opening tip, Sandpoint was on the attack offensively and they were led by senior Kobe Banks who was all over the place, scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists.
Engelson said it was the best game Banks has played at Sandpoint.
The Bulldogs led for the entire first half and took a 39-30 advantage into the break thanks in large point to freshman Arie VanDenBerg who stepped up and knocked down a trio of three-pointers in the first 16 minutes and scored 12 points. It was VanDenBerg’s first career varsity start, but it certainly didn’t look like it.
The Highlanders didn’t go down without a fight and went on a 13-2 run to start the second half to take a 43-41 lead.
The Bulldogs weathered the storm though and after a sluggish third quarter, they stepped up in the final eight minutes of action
Sandpoint went back and forth with the Highlanders in the final quarter until senior Ryan Roos rocked the rim with a thunderous dunk with about two minutes remaining in the game, sending the Bulldogs student section and bench into a frenzy.
“Everyone’s yelling shoot a layup, shoot a layup and he just wham,” Engelson said about Roos dunk.
The Bulldogs used the momentum from Roos dunk to hold off Shadle Park, despite missing a handful of free throws late, to capture the W.
Engelson said he was impressed with how his team adjusted throughout the game when the Shadle Park defense threw a number of different looks at them and the Bulldogs had an answer every time.
“We have a great group of young men here in the program and while I didn’t like how we played [Thursday],” Engelson said, “these guys come to practice and put the work in every day ... that’s a big win for us.”
Sandpoint (1-1) gets five days off before they hit the road for the second time this year to battle Timberlake 7 p.m. Thursday.
SANDPOINT 16 23 10 16 — 65
SHADLE PARK 12 18 17 11 — 58
Sandpoint — R. Roos 6, Banks 22, Niemela 8, VanDenBerg 16, C. Roos 4, Treadaway 7, Lee 2.
Shadle Park — Wrenn 2, Doyle 7, Kehr 19, Sloan 6, Miller 5, Votava 4, Sorweide 2, Wilcox 2, Pugh 8, Johnson 3.