KIMBERLY • Wendell held off a second half Kimberly rally to take home their sixth win of the season 55-47. After scoring only 12 first half points, Kimberly (2-5 overall) went down 18 in the third quarter, but found life behind 3-pointers and increased defensive intensity. It was not enough in the end, however, despite scrapping to within five points with 20 seconds remaining.
“We weren’t playing at the effort level we want in the first half,” said Kimberly head coach Daren Garey. “We were flat. While it later looked like our offense was getting better it actually was our defense that helped us. We picked up intensity and that led to easier baskets.”
Wendell methodically built themselves a 25-12 halftime lead and comfortably kept Kimberly’s offense under wraps. The Bulldogs lacked aggressiveness inside the key and their outside shots would not fall. Making things look worse was a 5-0 third quarter run by the Trojans that created an 18-point deficit at 30-12, the largest of the game.
“We were playing good team basketball and our strength is our seniors,” said Wendell head coach Sam Kelsey. The Trojans boast seven seniors on their roster. He continued: “We were executing on our offense and played sound defense in the first half particularly.”
Wendell’s Logan Bowers led all scorers with 19 points and was followed by Johnny Lancaster’s 15. A Lancaster steal and layup with 1:32 left in the first gave the Trojans an 8-6 lead. Bowers would contribute 10 of his total points in the first half to help build their 13-point half time lead.
“Bowers is a hard worker,” said Kelsey. “He gives us 100-percent effort every time he steps on the floor and it was the same tonight. He’s an experienced player and a leader.”
Halfway through the third quarter came a simple Wendell turnover which led to a 3-pointer by Kimberly junior Jackson Randall, his only bucket of the game.
While not instantly turning things around for Kimberly, they did find offensive rhythm afterwards. Two more 3’s were added by Staker-Morfin, also his only score, and then by Weston Littlefair.
Zach Wright further lifted his side by scoring all 10 of his points in the second half. Perhaps his biggest bucket was a last-second tip-in in the third quarter, bringing the Bulldogs to within 12 at 38-26.
Kimberly continued to push and capitalize on Wendell’s miscues. The Bulldogs pulled within five point after a missed 3-pointer by Bridger Gunnell – the co-leading scorer with 10 points – was rebounded by Braden Coronado and lifted back in, all while in the air, with 15 seconds to go. Down 52-47, the Bulldogs had to hope Wendell would miss free throws while in double bonus. Lancaster and Bowers combined for three field goals and, with one second remaining, Bowers grabbed his 13th rebound of the game to secure the win.
Kimberly’s second half fight was encouraging for Garey. After some recent tough losses, he feels his side will gain some motivation when their season resumes after the New Year.
“Our kids saw what a little extra effort can do for you. We dug ourselves a huge hole and fought back and made it a contest. Going into the break we can build off this.”
Both schools will resume their season on Jan. 5. Kimberly will travel to American Falls and Wendell will host Buhl.
Wendell 55, Kimberly 47
Kimberly 6 6 14 19—47
Wendell 9 16 13 17—55
Garey 6, Coronado 8, Gunnell 10, Randall 3, Staker-Morfin 3, Littlefair 7, Wright 10. Totals: 17 8-10 47
Bowers 19, Swainston 6, Lancaster 15, Laudert 8, John 5, Geer 2. Totals: 17 18-30 55.
3-point goals: Kimberly 5 (Gunnell 2, Randall, Staker-Morfin, Littlefair) Wendell 3 (Laudert 2, John)
Fouls: Kimberly 22, Wendell 12
Fouled out: Garey (Kimberly) John (Wendell)
Technical fouls: John (Wendell)