“We need to play four quarters like we played the fourth,” Grangeville head coach Kelcey Edwards told the Free Press immediately after his team leveled the Class 2A District I-II tournament and forced a rematch, now scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Troy.
Tied 32-all at the end of three, Grangeville scored 10 points in a row to start the fourth, and beat St. Maries 58-45.
At stake on Saturday will be the Central Idaho League’s only state qualification.
Late in the third, St. Maries – which on Tuesday night narrowly won the first game in the best-of-three series – had taken a 32-28 lead. Grangeville responded with a post-up jumper by Jacob Vanderwall, followed by Vanderwall’s game-tying jump shot from near the foul line.
He finished with 13 points on the night, but the defensive effort Vanderwall gave after his shot went was cited by his coach as a fine example of “team ball.”
“He shot it, it went in, and the kid he was guarding was running out, so he turned on a dead sprint and got back to cover that," Edwards said. “We ask a lot of Jacob in our system. When we go to a press, he’s guarding the ball with his length and he’s quick enough he can cover traps. Then, he’s playing the bottom of the zone. We’ve had other kids do that in practice and they complain about having to run the full length of the floor. Jacob has never said a word about it. He goes and traps wings and hustles back and that’s what I liked about that shot. He shot it confidently, but as soon as he saw it was in and he didn’t have to rebound, he turned and was sprinting with that kid that released. That’s team ball, right there.”
Edwards also cited the play of Colby Kennedy (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Noah Kaschmitter.
“It was three decent quarters and one great one,” Edwards said. “We started playing ball the way we want to play, and the way we can play. We started moving the ball, getting some easy looks and knocking down some shots. That’s how we can succeed. The kids on the bench kept saying, ‘We should have done this Tuesday.’ We just went after it early. We battled early. Jacob, Colby and Noah rebounded like crazy in that first quarter. We got after it. Our rebounding on Tuesday night was a little soft. Kyle [Frei] came in and gave us good minutes. He battles, too. If we can control the boards, we can control the game, we feel.”
Trey Dreadfulwater scored 14 for Grangeville, which led 4-0 and 8-4 before St. Maries surged into a 10-10 tie late in the first quarter. The score was four points different only briefly before halftime, when Frei scored in the post to make it 24-20, Grangeville. St. Maries notched a couple of baskets to make it 24-up at halftime.
The Lumberjacks led by 2-3 points for much of the third, but Grangeville went ahead for good on a triple by Blake Darr to start the fourth. That shot sparked the 10-0 run that proved decisive, and Darr added a book-end with a triple off a kick-out pass with about four minutes left. Grangeville’s lead remained 10 points until a St. Maries three-pointer with about 2:30 left in the game, after which the Bulldogs poured in 10 of the next 11 points, including two technical foul free throws by Kennedy with 1:13 remaining.
After the technical, Grangeville led 52-36, but neither team relented during the last minute, which saw many free throws and choppy play through the final buzzer.
The teams will meet again at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at Troy – with game time having been moved up in the day in a decision the schools reached earlier on Thursday.