Cardinals edge Blackhawks in Golden Feather Spirit Game
Basketball’s certainly a game of bounces, but for Medical Lake last week it may have been more about bounce-backs.
After opening the week with an easy Northeast A League win, 62-40 over Newport, the Cardinals dropped a 60-57 contest they led late Friday at Lakeside.
But after the disappointment in a game that might just toss the NEA into a playoff, Medical Lake pulled off a huge emotional non-league victory, 47-45 over visiting Cheney in the Golden Feather Spirit Game. Medical Lake claimed victory last year too, 49-40.
“We had a quick turnaround from Friday night and guys were a little down about that,” Cardinals’ head coach Arnold Brown said.
But they hardly showed it in a rugged game. “They were a physical team,” Brown said of Cheney (4-5 Great Northern, 8-9).
Each team put together some impressive runs to erase each other’s leads. Cheney’s 7-0 edge pushed the Blackhawks into a 20-13 lead with 6 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the half.
A basket from Dom Harvey-Mitchell and a pair of free throws from freshman Corey Wagner made it 20-17 with 5:11 to play in the half. Theo Petropoulous hit a field goal within the final minute of the half to give Cheney a 26-21 lead but Cory Wagner’s basket with 30 seconds remaining in the half trimmed it to 26-23.
Medical Lake’s Jaelon Stith converted a reverse layup on the Cards’ first possession making it a 26-25 game. Newcomer Tellas Johnson blocked a Cheney shot and later converted for the basket to put the Cardinals in the lead 27-26 at the 6:35 mark.
Austin Garza’s runner with 5:55 to play in the third completed a 10-0 Medical Lake run, giving the Cards a 31-26 lead.
Cheney got the next momentum boost, 8-0, to reclaim the lead 33-31 in the third before Medical Lake’s 11-0 run that crossed into the fourth quarter gave the Cardinals a 42-33 lead on a Jaelon Stith 3.
After Cheney closed back to within 42-38 with 5:51 remaining on baskets from Alex Berman and Kennan Williams, the teams went from scoring in spurts to not scoring at all, for a whole 3:11, until Petropoulous connected with 2:40 to play to make it 42-40 and set up a wild race to the finish.
Wyborney, whose 19 points led all scorers, got a basket to tie at and was fouled but he missed the free throw so things remained tied 45-45 with 43.4 seconds remaining.
Garza’s baseline drive with 25 seconds left, his team-leading 10th point, provided the Cardinals with their final 47-45 edge. Johnson added nine and Adam Paulson eight.
The Cardinals had to survive a tense ending when Eric Igbinoba’s 3-point try in the final five seconds rattled off the rim.
At Lakeside (7-3, 8-10) in a game that had, and still in fact has big playoff implications, Brown saw this as an opportunity missed, particularly at the foul line.
“We missed some crucial free throws,” Brown said. Turnovers too came into the outcome, especially late. “It was kind of bad timing on the missed free throws, bad timing of the turnovers.”
Medical Lake held the ball, and a one-point lead inside the last half-minute. “We had the ball with 32 seconds and we inbounded it and threw it away and they got it back,” Brown said. “We were up one at the time and we tried to hold onto it but we couldn’t.”
Trailing 38-29 at the half the Cardinals put on both an offensive and defensive clinic, outscoring the Eagles 24-7 in the third quarter and led 53-45 going into the final eight minutes. But the ball bounced the other way in the final quarter where Lakeside outscored Medical Lake 15-4 and rallied for the win.
“I felt like we dug too big of a hole that first half,” Brown said. “We used a lot of our energy to get back in, we did take the lead there for a little bit but we just kind of ran out of gas.”
Garza had 21, Paulson with 14 and Johnson’s 13 were the Cardinal players in double-figures. Coleton Collins’ 17 points and 14 from Cody Watkins paced Lakeside.
Against Newport (3-8, 6-13) on Senior Night, Garza scored 17 points to help counter the efforts of Jeron Konkright’s 26.
After their trip to Chewelah the Cardinals will play the waiting game to see where they land in the final standings as Lakeside has a Friday game against Kettle Falls.
That result might make for the need for a tiebreaker for second between the Cardinals and Eagles. That game according to athletics director Chris Spring, if played, would take place Saturday at Riverside, probably a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.