If you ask Wood River’s 6-3 junior forward Parker Bingham how best to deal with Minico’s 6-6 All-Conference senior strongman Isaiah Harris, Bingham might say:
Deny the pass.
Let him know you’re there.
Get some help on the double team.
Hustle down the floor and score a few points.
Go as hard as you can for as long as you can.
Wednesday night, Bingham didn’t have to say anything like that. He just went out and did it, just like the Wood River High School boys’ varsity basketball team went out and won its first home game of the season 67-49 over Minico’s Spartans.
The Wolverines (3-12, 2-4 league) kept making progress and moved into a Great Basin Conference fourth-place tie with Minico (4-10, 2-4). In its last five games Wood River has won twice, lost in overtime at Jerome and fallen by four points to 3A contender Filer.
Bingham (3.2 ppg) scored all his season-best 10 points during Wood River’s 24-point fourth quarter surge. His tough defense against Harris in the lane held Minico’s top scorer scoreless in the fourth—after Harris tallied 13 points in the third.
The Bingham breakthrough combined with a game-high 17 points by soph guard Alec Nordsieck and two other Wolverines in double figures enabled the Hailey boys to convincingly end a lengthy losing streak to Minico basketball teams.
Wood River teams had lost 14 straight games over seven seasons to Minico since beating the Spartans 61-56 in the Great Basin tourney in 2007. The average losing margin in that streak was 23.1 including a 17-point loss at Minico Dec. 18.
Second-year head coach Andy Miles had challenged his team this season to earn at least one more Great Basin league win against a team that wasn’t named Canyon Ridge.
Before Wednesday, Hailey teams were 5-65 in league play over seven seasons, all five wins against Canyon Ridge.
So beating Minico was sweet, especially for 25-year-old Miles. The big 18-point victory came against his former coach Ty Shippen of Minico, who was also 25 when he coached Miles in basketball at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls.
“It was nice to beat my old coach,” said Miles with a smile. “It was really a complete game for us. We played as a team and we played hard. I really feel like we can play with anyone. We did a good job attacking the basket on offense and getting to the rim. We got inside and got fouls and the free throws.”
Attacking the basket, Wood River shot 64% from the field including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. The hustling Hailey zone defense limited Minico to 32% field goal shooting. And the Wolverines shot a season-best 15-for-17 (88%) from the line.
On defense, Wood River ran a zone all game and turned unforced Minico turnovers (7 second quarter) into points.
It was a game of runs. A 10-3 run in the final four minutes of the first quarter set the tone of the game and gave Wood River a 14-7 lead. Then, a 10-0 run in the second period allowed the Wolverines to build a lead as high as 14 points.
Harris, saddled with two personal fouls and held scoreless in the first half, set up shop close to the basket in the third quarter and scored all his 13 points. Minico cut its 14-point deficit to just five points on three different occasions.
Midway through the third quarter, with the foul count on the scoreboard reading five for Wood River and none for Minico, normally mild-mannered coach Miles got hot and took his case to the officials. He didn’t like the way one official responded to his entreaties and got a little hotter.
“I wasn’t pleased with what they said back to me,” he said.
No technical foul was called, though, and the tide turned. Eight of the next nine fouls were whistled against Minico.
The momentum also returned to Wood River because of physicality that reserve player Bingham brought to the task.
Miles said, “We weren’t being physical enough against Harris, so Parker came in and did what he had to do. He denied him the ball. We also tried to double-down on Harris (mainly with the quickness and desire of forward Eron Bates) because Harris never passes the ball back out.”
While Minico settled for sporadic 3-pointers over the zone in the fourth quarter, Wood River drove to the basket on offense and piled up points from six different players, along with shooting 8-for-10 at the free throw line.
The home team found the open man and scored time after time on the press break. Eight of the 16 Wolverine assists for the game were in the final eight minutes.
Nordsieck (17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists, two 3-pointers) played loose, spotted his teammates with creative passes and minimized his turnovers.
Bates (6 rebounds, 4 assists) aggravated an ankle injury in the second quarter, but returned to the game and scored six of his 12 points in the fourth. Both Nordsieck and Bates worked the pick-and-roll with Bingham (3 rebounds) in key situations.
Other contributors were Connor Hayes (11 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists), Cody Carter (9 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks), Jon Scott (6 points) and Arthur Brugger (2 points, 3 assists). Leading Minico were Harris (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Domenico Chavez (12 points, 3 steals, 4 assists).
Miles said he hoped the league victory over Minico and the way his Wolverines have competed during the second half of the season would give the Hailey boys momentum going into Great Basin road games at Burley and Twin Falls.
“Burley and Twin Falls are tough teams, but it’s good for us to play that kind of competition. We look forward to the challenge. Our kids always battle to the end,” said Miles.
Wood River visits Burley today, Friday aiming to make progress from its 27-point home loss to the Bobcats Jan. 8. Burley (11-4, 4-2) is coming off a 62-46 road loss at league-leading Twin Falls (12-3, 6-0) on Wednesday. The Wolverines travel to Twin Falls Wednesday, Feb. 5.
In another GBC result Wednesday, Jerome (8-7, 4-2) kept pace in the race for the No. 2 league seed with a 49-38 road victory over Canyon Ridge (1-15, 0-6) at Twin Falls.
Wood River finishes its 20-game regular season with a three-game home-stand against Jerome Feb. 7, Canyon Ridge Feb. 12 and Gooding Feb. 14. The GBC tourney begins Feb. 18.
In Wednesday’s junior varsity game, coach Steve Scott’s Wolverine boys (10-5, 3-3 league) held off Minico for a 50-47 victory. Freshman Cade Schott scored 14 points and sophomore Nic Tidwell added 11 for the winners. Others were Jordan Bjorkman (8 points), Samuel Burns (6), Travis Swanson (6), Nelson Cantrell (3) and Drew Kaminski (2). Minico’s Jaden Jensen topped the visitors with 12 points.
Girls have a wild home finale
It was a madcap ending to Tuesday’s Great Basin Conference game between the Wood River High School girls’ varsity basketball team and the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks.
Canyon Ridge (3-15, 2-8) ended its league slate with a 47-45 overtime win and season sweep over Wood River (5-12, 0-10).
The Riverhawks led 9-0 early and 26-18 at halftime, but strong Wolverine defense in the fourth quarter enabled the home team to cut its deficit to 42-41 with 18 seconds left.
At that point, things got interesting.
Junior Rory Cole (14 points, 6 rebounds) made two free throws with 16.8 seconds on the clock giving Wood River its first lead of the game, 43-42.
With just seven seconds left, Canyon Ridge turned the ball over. But a wild scramble for the ball on the ensuing inbounds pass resulted in a foul whistled against Wood River. The free throw with four seconds left tied the game 43-43.
Canyon Ridge outscored Wood River 4-2 in the four-minute overtime period to escape with a win.
Wood River assistant coach J.C. Nemecek said, “The girls had 13 turnovers in the first half and their play was very sporadic. In the second half the girls had just three turnovers and their defense in the fourth quarter kept the Riverhawks off-balance and struggling.
“The girls made a determined comeback, the key being their focus on what needed to be done rather than the physical nature of the game. They grew up as a team.”
Wood River shot 42% as a team including 4-for-8 from 3-point territory. The Wolverine defense held Canyon Ridge to 23% shooting. The Riverhawks won the game at the free throw line, shooting 23-of-31 (74%).
Other Hailey contributors were Michelle Mason (11 points, two 3-pointers), Blair Radford (10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals), Ciceley Peavey (6 points, 4 boards, 4 assists), Samantha Sutton (5 rebounds), Kenya Schott (2 assists) and Giselle Andrade (4 points).
The Great Basin Conference tournament begins Tuesday, Feb. 4 with both No. 6-seeded Wood River and No. 5 Canyon Ridge expected to travel for their opening games of the six-team double elimination meet.