As of Thursday, February 8, 2018
GENESEE “Despite big games from Kaci Haeg, Kaylee Auer and Devyn Wilson, the St. Maries girls were upset this evening,” the St. Maries Gazette-Record reported Wednesday night, Feb. 7, noting they did not win the second game of the Central Idaho League’s district tournament 64-56. The Grangeville girls won, but as upsets go, their win might not rank among the unexpected, at least within the team.
Girls basketball "Bulldog of the Week" 2017-18
Throughout this season, every time the Free Press has asked anyone with the team her thoughts on the St. Maries matchup, each of the girls – and head coach Michelle Barger – have said essentially the same thing: “We want to win and go to state.”
“Our goal has always been to beat St. Maries and go to state from Day One,” Barger told the Free Press Thursday morning, Feb. 8. “Last night was a group effort that started in the summer off-season. These girls have worked for this and they finally saw all their efforts come together as a whole last night. I am so excited to play them tonight. The energy after the game and on our bus ride home was great and they finally know that they can beat them. Just getting them to believe in themselves, in the coaches and each other is half the battle with any team and we are finally there.”
From the sidelines, during the regular season, St. Maries’ favorability stood out – quite literally – in the form of a height advantage as well as in the play of Haeg, who had torched GHS for 52 points in leading the Lumberjacks to a sweep of the CIL. But during the Wednesday night playoff, Grangeville held Haeg to 17 points: the game-high total, but nine points below her regular season average against the Bulldogs.
“As far as holding Haeg, I gave that responsibility to Mikayla Ruzicka along with all of the team,” Barger said. “Mikayla and I were talking the night before after practice and I said, ‘I want you to find her and block her out so that she doesn't hurt us this game.’”
“Mikayla did just that,” Barger added. “She plays so hard every game and doesn't always get the headlines but does all those little things that matter the most. Our work isn't done. She [Haeg] still scored 17 points…we can't foul her because she shoots free throws so well.”
Paige Lindsley (15 points) scored the team-high, and Jakaili Norman (12) and Makayla Roberts (10) also scored double-digits.
The third game of the district tournament – 6 p.m. tonight, Feb. 8, at Genesee – potentially means state qualification for Grangeville and elimination for St. Maries – or a split. With a St. Maries win, the teams would meet again in Genesee at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10.