SUGAR CITY - Coming back from a double-digit deficit requires perseverance and mental toughness. The Sugar-Salem Diggers used both attributes Monday night to come back in the 3A District 6 championship game to beat the Teton Timberwolves 48-46 and continue their reign in their district and qualify for the state tournament where they'll look to defend their title.
The game came down to a drive by Kennedy Gillette, who drove to the basket for the Diggers and Teton's Porter Wood looked to draw a foul on Gillette. Gillette got the call and made the eventual game-winning free throws with nine seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Gillette ended up leading all scorers with 31 points and also topped 1,000 points in her high school career.
“It was a scary moment, but these are the moments that you prepare for in practice and by yourself. I am glad we made it," Gillette said.
The Timberwolves started the first quarter scoring the first 11 points and imposed their will especially in the paint. Diggers head coach Crystal Dayley decided to pull off her starters and played several players who played junior varsity.
“I was so mad at my starters that I let all the bench players play and they did a great job. I though every kid that I put on the floor tonight stuck on the court and did what I needed them to do," Dayley said.
The Diggers took the lead at the third quarter, however, after that it was a back and forth battle all the way to the end of the game. The Timberwolves had the opportunity to send the game into overtime. Abigail Barkdull got a look from the side of the free throw line but the shot ratted out. Barkdull lead the Timberwolves with 20 points.
“They came out and pressed us and we were tired. They got a couple turnovers and quick buckets. Their press gave us a little bit of fits at the end. We had shots to win the game I was proud of the girls," Timberwolves head coach Pat Hogan said.
For the Timberwolves' season continues with a regional play-in game against Marsh Valley on Thursday at Shelley High.
“I think we are playing our best basketball right now. I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. We are there. We played great. I am ready and I believe the girls are ready to go," Hogan said.
For the Diggers, their goal to get back to Nampa is accomplished and will look to defend their 3A state title.
“Not a lot people thought we make it to Boise this year. But it shows a lot about these kids and the heart that they have. I am so proud of them and proud of them that they made this goal that they have to get back. We know we can do it,” Dayley said.
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