Defense can do plenty for success on the basketball court. That’s a lesson the Wood River High School boys re-learned this past week with two home wins over the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks and Kimberly.
On Thursday, Wood River (5-6, 1-2 league) snapped a 27-game Great Basin Conference losing streak dating back two years with a 36-23 home victory over Canyon Ridge (0-11, 0-3) behind the 11-point, 6-steal effort of freshman Alec Nordsieck.
Monday, the Wolverine defense completely shut down Kimberly in the final four minutes and the Hailey boys stitched together a decisive 8-0 run that locked up a 34-32 non-conference win for a season sweep over the Bulldogs (4-7).
Sophomore Cody Carter (a season-high 10 points) drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:30 left to rally the Wolverines, who had trailed 32-26 with 3:37 left. Nordsieck took a Carter pass for a driving layup and 3-point play with 27 seconds remaining for the final points.
It wasn’t a fluke win for Wood River. The 3A Bulldogs have played some of their best basketball against 4A teams—sweeping Canyon Ridge, rallying from a 22-point halftime deficit to beat host Minico 61-54 Saturday, and losing by only four points at Jerome.
But Wood River’s defense, holding foes to 39.5 ppg over 11 games, was the winning difference Monday night. In fact, the Wolverines assured their win when sophomore Jonathon Scott drew his third charging foul of the game with Kimberly’s Jesse Sutherland lining up a potential game-tying 12-foot jumper at the buzzer.
Wood River coach Andy Miles said about the two wins, “Both games we played really good defense. And the kids were patient and waited for their opportunities on offense.”
Against Kimberly, Carter came out and scored 5 points in the first quarter helping the Wolverines to an early 9-2 lead. Wood River led 19-16 at half.
In the third quarter the Wolverines committed 6 of their 18 turnovers and Kimberly took its first lead, 23-22, with 3:12 left in the third. Despite solid man-to-man defense by the Hailey boys in the fourth, Kimberly’s Riley Carlton (5 points) and Alex Millward slipped away for back-to-back 3-pointers and a 32-26 Bulldog lead with 3:37 left.
Miles called time out and sent a clear message to the boys. He said, “I told them, this isn’t about “Xs” and “Os” anymore. It’s about having heart and going out and giving it all.”
Going to a full-court press and continuing their defensive trap on the perimeter, Wood River started forcing turnovers. Kimberly made 7 in the fourth quarter alone, after committing only 6 in the first three periods combined. Max Mauldin picked off a couple of Kimberly offensive passes. So did Nordsieck. Scott got one.
Nordsieck’s made a steal and was fouled at 1:54, made the charity for a 32-28 game and missed the second. Scott and Mauldin hustled for two offensive rebounds, and Scott finally tied up the ball for a jump—Hailey getting possession.
On the inbounds play, coach Miles called Carter’s number. He said, “I coached Cody on the freshman team last year, and I just had a feeling he could make one.” After Mauldin set a screen, sophomore guard Connor Hayes found Carter in the corner, and Carter swished it.
Miles said about Wood River’s rally, “It was the first time all year we’ve found that next gear to take it to another level. We played so hard for the final four minutes. I’m so proud—they didn’t give up.”
Wood River contributors were Nordsieck (8 points, 3 boards, 3 steals, 3 assists), Eron Bates (3 points, 4 boards, 2 assists), Hayes (3 points, 2 steals, 3 assists), Mauldin (3 points, 7 boards), Scott (3 points, 6 rebounds), Nic Brunker (2 points, 3 rebounds) and Kevin Hernandez (2 points, 1 block).
Nine Wolverines made the scoring column Thursday against Canyon Ridge.
Besides Nordsieck, they were Scott (6 points, 2 boards), Hayes (5 points, 2 boards, 2 assists), Jose Hernandez (4 points), Carter (2 points, 4 boards), Kevin Hernandez (2 points, 3 rebounds), Bates (2 points, 7 boards, 3 steals, 3 assists), Mauldin (2 points) and Brunker (2 points, 3 rebounds).