MIDDLETON — The Sugar-Salem High School girls basketball team returned to the 3A state tournament after a year’s hiatus with a vengeance on Thursday.
The Diggers shot 35-of-60 from the field and got playing time from all 12 players in an 85-41 rout of Priest River in a first round game at Middleton High School. In the process, Sugar-Salem broke its own 21 year-old 3A state tournament record for most points in a game. The previous record was 83.
The Diggers also beat the Spartans on the glass (31 rebounds to 18) and capitalized on 27 Priest River turnovers while only committing 13, resulting in fastbreak after fastbreak.
“We knew we were faster than them,” Sugar-Salem coach Crystal Dayley said. “I feel like that’s what’s gotten us to the state tournament. I feel like our go-to is our fastbreak game.”
Of the 10 Diggers to score, four finished with double figures. Senior Amanda Rudd led the charge, ending with 26 points and seven steals by the time she checked out with two minutes left in regulation. The starting guard scored 14 of her points off fastbreaks, which she said she turned to after not having much success with outside shooting.
“My shots were not falling,” said Rudd, one of three remaining members of Sugar-Salem’s 2015 state title team. “My team really helped me out with those fastbreaks. I couldn’t have done it without their defense and passing.”
Sugar-Salem’s transition game shined in a dominating contest. After starting the game with seven unanswered points, the Diggers led by as many as 13 before ending the first quarter ahead 19-11. It became an onslaught in the second quarter, which began with an 8-0 run led by Rudd, Madi Fillmore and Kayla Luke. The Diggers poured 26 points into that quarter, and Dayley made several substitutions as the lead grew to 45-19 at halftime.
Entering the second half, eight Diggers had scored. Rudd and Sarah Maughan combined to score 13 of Sugar’s 21 points in the third quarter, which ended with a 66-30 lead.
One Digger who had not yet had scored got her chance with 2:56 left in the game. Sporting a soft cast on her left arm, sophomore Macie Knapp made the back end of two free throws with her good arm to extend Sugar-Salem’s lead to 76-36 and send her teammates on the bench into elation.
It was Knapp’s first court time since having surgery to repair three bones she broke in the Jan. 21 game at Teton. She had been practicing with the cast she wore Thursday, but the officials did not permit her to enter the game until the hard plastic portion was removed and replaced with layers of soft foam.
“I was so happy to be able to see her play,” Rudd said. “We all know how much it’s been killing her to sit on the bench.”
Knapp, who was Sugar-Salem’s leading scorer at the time of her injury, was as ecstatic as her teammates.
“It just means so much to me that they all support me and want me to succeed,” Knapp said. “Basketball is my favorite thing in the world.”
Melissa Krampert had eight points, and Avery Lynn Summers added six for Priest River (9-16).
Fillmore had 17, Maughan had 13 and Luke had 10 for Sugar-Salem (21-4), which plays Kimberly (14-7) in a 6:15 p.m. semifinal game tonight.
SUGAR-SALEM 85, PRIEST RIVER 41
Priest River 11 8 11 11 — 41
Sugar-Salem 19 26 21 19 — 85
PRIEST RIVER (41) — Genevieve Hurd 3, Avery Lynn Summers 6, Melissa Krampert 8, Rachel Akre 5, Morgan DeMent 5, Elizabeth Downs 3, Kara Fink 3, Liann Kren 3, Antonia Martin 3, Natalie Petit 2. FG: 13-42. FT: 9-15. 3-pointers: 6-16 (Hurd 1-2, Krampert 2-7, Akre 1-3, DeMent 1-1, Kren 1-2). Total fouls: 12. Fouled out: none.
SUGAR-SALEM (85) — Amanda Rudd 26, Savanah Crane 4, Kayla Luke 10, Madi Fillmore 17, Addi Gehmlich 2, Macie Knapp 1, Sarah Maughan 13, Lindsey Larson 3, Mariah Dunn 6, Macey Fillmore 3. FG: 35-60. FT: 7-14. 3-pointers: 8-16 (Rudd 1-4, Luke 2-3, Madi Fillmore 3-6, Larson 1-1, Macey Fillmore 1-1). Total fouls: 16. Fouled out: none.