NAMPA – Having played a close and consequential game against a strong opponent, having given a strong effort of their own, and having kept within two points of Carey until about two minutes remained, the Salmon River girls went through the handshake line, went to their bench, and began to cry Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Ford Idaho Center.

Their star, their only senior – Chevelle Shepherd – known by all who ever saw her in action as one to draw from and inspire with relentlessly emotional play – appeared to be suffering the end of her high school career final the hardest.

“Hey guys, we’re not done,” head coach Paula Tucker said. “Get up.”

And with those words, Shepherd and the Savages stood for a team photo with their second-place trophy, after which Tucker took up the microphone for the customary speech. She congratulated Carey. She offered kudos to the tournament organizers. She honored her players.

For Salmon River, and for Shepherd, it was second place for the second time since 2017.

The action on the floor reflected the seriousness with which both sides regarded the outcome.

With about 2:20 remaining in the second quarter, No. 20 – Shepherd – crashed from the top of the key to the center of the lane to snipe a long rebound and put it back: 22-22, tie game.

Carey had led by five, but the game was tied 27-27 going into halftime when Shepherd sank a three-pointer and drew a foul on the follow-through with 3.7 seconds.

During the third quarter, after Salmon River’s Jordyn Pottenger leveled the score again at 29-all, Carey put together a 10-0 run using a mix of three-pointers and post-ups.

Shepherd scored the next five points, answering a Carey three with one of her own, then finishing off a passing play that began with Sofie Branstetter’s defensive stop. Branstetter passed ahead to Emily Diaz, who got it to Shepherd for the layup. 39-34.

It more-or-less remained a five-point game until Lotus Harper converted a reverse layup late in the third, which ended with Salmon River trailing 44-40. Shepherd scored another layup as the first basket of the fourth, but Carey answered with post-ups once again.

Branstetter cut it back to two, drilling a jump shot with about 2:40 left in the game.

After dragging the contest into its final phase with a long possession, Carey countered with a three by Athana Versis, which defined the endgame as Salmon River having to overcome a five-point lead with 1:27 to go.

The last basket of Salmon River’s 2019 season ended up being a hook by Harper as time expired.

Shepherd finished with 29 points in the game. The Savages finished 21-3 overall.

Sports Editor

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