Troubled by turnovers and first-game jitters in the first half, the Wood River Wolverines made a good, solid run at the visiting Kimberly Bulldogs on Wednesday night before falling to the Lady Dawgs 47-29.
Action took place in the season-opening non-conference game for Wood River (0-1) at the high school gym in Hailey. Kimberly (1-1) won for the first time after falling short 32-31 at the Valley Vikings Tuesday.
Senior 6-0 post Sydney Tidwell (14 points, 17 rebounds) had what first-year coach Matt Newhouse called “a monster game” for the Wolverines, who out-rebounded Kimberly 43-17. But Wood River’s 35 turnovers to Kimberly’s 18 was a factor.
At half, Kimberly led 24-7 and the Wolverines had already amassed 22 turnovers. The Dawgs’ lead peaked at 20 points before Tidwell scored 10 points in the third quarter and a 12-0 Hailey run sliced the deficit to eight points. Wood River got as close as seven before running out of gas in the fourth period.
Newhouse understood that Wood River’s girls battled through some growing pains. But they did show flashes of the kind of defensive intensity and teamwork that led the Wolverines to two straight Great Basin Conference titles in 2011-12.
He said, “In the first half the younger kids didn’t execute the things we had practiced. We didn’t play well as a unit and didn’t take care of the ball. But that’s pretty common for a first game, especially with the young ages of our kids and their experience levels.
“At halftime we talked about slowing down, staying calm, spacing the floor and looking for each other—seeing the game, really. The whole time, we were trying to understand the game of basketball. We had lost that battle in the first half. We did better in the second.
“I’m an optimistic person by nature, and I believe the game is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Wood River’s final lead was 4-3 at the five-minute mark of the first quarter when Tidwell converted her second field goal. At that point the Lady Dawgs applied full-court pressure that provided a challenge for Wood River the rest of the game.
Kimberly established its outside shooting when senior wing Heidi Funk (game-high 16 points, four 3-pointers) drilled a pair of 3s in the first period. When they did break the Dawgs full-court pressure, the Wolverines rushed around on offense and didn’t get many good shots.
Newhouse’s switch from a man-to-man to 2-3 zone defense in the first half provided a boost to Hailey’s rebounding edge. “There’s no question in that type of 2-3 you can contain the defensive glass,” he said.
But the zone didn’t shut down the Dawgs outside shooting until Wood River’s rotation quickened its footwork and picked up its intensity in the third period. The defense held Kimberly scoreless for five minutes while the offense got Tidwell the ball inside with great success in the 12-0 run.
“We almost got the lead down to five midway through the fourth, but we couldn’t convert a fast break chance and just ran out of gas after that,” Newhouse said. “Actually we had several break opportunities in the third quarter that could have made it closer.”
Senior Hannah Belloli (6 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) and sophomore point guard Ciceley Peavey (3 points, 2 boards, 2 steals, 4 assists) provided leadership, and 6-2 sophomore post Giselle Andrade (2 points, 8 rebounds) showed a willingness to bring down boards. Kenya Schott (2 points) scored.
Newhouse also regarded junior wing Samantha Sutton (4 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 blocked shot) as “a stabilizing force defensively.” And he liked the gutty effort of freshman Bailey Rierden (2 points, 2 rebounds). Rierden played a scrappy game before leaving with a bloody nose and concussion when hit in the face with a loose ball.
Wood River was 11-of-20 at the free throw line, and Kimberly 6-of-10.
Coach Brett Wright’s Bulldogs put eight players in the scoring column including junior Makenzie Watts (9 points, 3 assists) and senior post Jordan Wall (9 points, 2 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 assists). Kimberly ended up with 19 steals based on its press and scrappy “D”.
Wood River traveled to Filer Thursday night and hosts the Gooding Senators Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. on the Hailey hardwoods. Last year’s State 3A consolation champ Filer (2-1) came into Thursday’s match-up after winning 48-45 at Twin Falls Tuesday. Filer also beat Jerome 50-45 Nov. 10 and lost 58-43 at Burley Nov. 9.