TWIN FALLS — The Minico High School girls basketball could’ve secured the No. 1 seed in the Great Basin Conference on Tuesday night, but instead it suffered its first conference loss.
Twin Falls knocked off the No. 2 Spartans in convincing fashion, 49-33, to avenge a loss in December to the Spartans. But it wasn’t so easy from the start.
Minico applied heavy defensive pressure early on, giving Twin Falls scorers like Kylie Baumert and Morgan Harr no room to shoot. But Minico couldn’t find its own shot, and the Bruins started finding offense towards the end of the first quarter.
“We just had to stay composed, keep calm and handle the ball,” Baumert said. “We used a lot of ball fakes to try to displace them, too, and that opened up lanes.”
Their composure paid off in the second quarter. Baumert and Harr went back-to-back with 3-pointers to extend the Bruins’ lead to 21-10 midway through the quarter.
“I knew it was huge,” Baumert said.
Baumert went on to score a game-high 14 points.
Minico only scored three points in the second quarter, trailing at half 23-13. Still, Twin Falls head coach Nancy Jones wasn’t letting her team think anything was off with the Spartans.
“We could see (Minico) getting a little frustrated, but shooters miss sometimes,” she said. “Minico has a lot of players that can score. We can’t give them open shots because you have to play like they could catch fire at any time.”
The Bruins heeded Jones’ advice, and kept up a steady defensive pressure. They allowed a small 6-1 run in the third quarter, but otherwise forced more tough shots out of Minico.
“Our defense stepped up,” Baumert said. “It was all team defense. If someone got by, there was another player there to help.”
Jones said one of the biggest defensive players for the Bruins was freshman Paige Beem, who guarded star junior Taylia Stimpson for most of the game.
“That’s a big ask, but she really performed and then knocked down free throws late,” Jones said.
Twin Falls sealed the victory with free-throw shooting, as all but 13 seconds of the fourth quarter were spent in the bonus. The Bruins went 14-for-19 from the line in the final quarter to complete the home upset.
Jones said the comfortable point differential allowed her to play substitues more than usual.
“(The Spartans) weren’t really keeping up as we crept up into scoring in the teens,” Jones said. “So we started subbing and getting those girls a lot of playing time. Usually I let them in early in the game and play it by ear, but they played most of the fourth quarter.”
The last time the two teams met, Minico sent the Bruins home with a 52-45 loss, but Harr, a frequent high scorer, went down in the first quarter of that game.
“It was great to have her back on the floor this time,” Jones said. “She helps our offense a lot.”
But this game wasn’t injury-free either, as Stimpson injured her leg on an uncontested layup in the fourth quarter. She remained on the bench for the rest of the game.
Minico (12-6, 7-1) will try to scratch out a couple conference wins against Wood River and Canyon Ridge before ending the season against Preston.
For the Bruins (10-8, 6-2), Tuesday’s game marks the seventh victory in their last eight games. They face another tough test in Burley on Thursday against a Bobcats team that beat the Bruins in Twin Falls 47-39.
Jones said her players know the drill with Burley, and will be ready to come out firing.
“It’s the same old players from last year, and we’ve just got to do the right things,” she said. “We know who to watch and what to do.”
Twin Falls 49, Minico 33
Minico: 10 3 10 10 — 33
Twin Falls: 13 10 10 16 — 49
MINICO (33) — Maura Merrill 3, Saydi Anderson 7, Taylia Stimpson 6, Bailey Black 5, Taycee Harper 6, Khali Robinson 3, Madison Vorwaller 3.
TWIN FALLS (49) — Kylie Baumert 14, Morgan Harr 8, Madison Glascock 8, Paige Beem 7, Morgan Cargile 5, McKayla Rodriguez 1, Sage Swan 4, Brinlee Stotts 2.