Printed on: January 10, 2013

I.F. employs choking defense to stun the Knights

By Marlowe Hereford

The Idaho Falls High School girls basketball team picked up their first 5A District 5-6 victory of the season with a bang, standing tall behind its 2-3 zone and creating turnovers all night in a 51-30 home win over Hillcrest.

The Knights (11-4, 2-3) scored just two field goals in the first half and were held to two points in the first quarter while Kerington Storms, Marley Taylor, Madison Hillam and Brooke Klaass sent the Tigers (6-9, 1-4) on a 16-0 run. That set the tone for the rest of the evening as Idaho Falls maintained a double-figure lead to the end, including its biggest margin of 17 when it went into halftime ahead 28-11.

Hillcrest entered Wednesday's contest as the third place 5A District 5-6 team with one of the deepest benches in eastern Idaho. However, the eight Tigers on a varsity roster depleted by illness created 27 turnovers against a Hillcrest varsity team of 14 in the best defensive performance Idaho Falls coach Britney Christensen said they have put forth all season.

"Nobody will understand how hard that zone is to play," Christensen said. "All the credit goes to these eight kids. You have kids play more than their share in several ways. Hillcrest is so strong. They put so much pressure on you every minute."

While I.F. knocked down 18 field goals, Hillcrest finished the game with seven as shot after shot hit glass or rim or fell short.

"They had a good tempo, kept flying around on defense," Hillcrest coach Cody Jackson said of I.F. "We talked about trying to get the ball inside. Our shots weren't falling from the inside all night."

The Knights opened the second half on a 9-4 run, however, when Hannah Murri and Sami Moore sank Hillcrest's first consecutive field goals of the game in the first three minutes of the third quarter and Payton Clark knocked down two jumpshots to cut the Tigers' margin to 32-20. That was as close as Hillcrest would get the rest of the game as Storms drained her third 3-pointer seconds later.

"Kerington's 3 when it got to 12 (points), it was almost like they could breathe again," Christensen said of the Tigers.

Storms led Idaho Falls with 15 points while Hillam added 13. Clark led Hillcrest with seven points while Murri had five.

Both teams return to action Friday with Idaho Falls traveling to Blackfoot while conference-leading Highland comes to Hillcrest. Jackson said turnovers will be his team's main focus preparing for Friday.l

"No matter how much pressure is on us, we can't turn the ball over," Jackson said.