RIRIE — The third quarter provided the firepower for the Ririe High School girls basketball team in Wednesday’s 2A Nuclear Conference opener versus Firth.
After a first half abundant with shooting struggles for both state media poll ranked teams, the No. 3 Bulldogs poured in 23 points in the third quarter to pull away for a 45-22 win over the No. 4 Cougars at Ririe High School.
Five different players scored for the Bulldogs in that stretch, a quarter Ririe head coach Damien Smith said his players ‘flipped a switch.’
“It was a tale of two halves,” Smith said. “The first half was ugly basketball. At halftime, our discussion was to re-commit and raise our level of play. It didn’t look like us in the first half. In the third quarter, we reached that level of play we wanted.”
One player Smith said helped the Bulldogs achieve that level was senior Cassidy Parkinson, who checked into the game at the 4:33 mark of the third quarter. Less than a minute later, she went 2-for-2 from the foul line to make it 28-12 Ririe. At 2:20, she sank a 3-pointer to make the score 31-14.
It was her second 3-pointer of the game, and one of four 3s Ririe made in the third quarter.
“Cassidy Parkinson off the bench, she definitely was the game-changer,” Smith said. “She sparked us off the bench.”
Parkinson said the Bulldogs took to heart what Smith told them at halftime.
“I think with everything Coach Smith told us, we realized how committed we were to this team,” Parkinson said. “We stepped up and raised our level as a team.”
The third quarter was a night-and-day difference from the first half. Both teams rebounded well, but missed layups and turnovers dictated the first five minutes of the game. Firth didn’t make its first field goal of the night until the 4:26 mark of the second quarter, ending the first half down 16-10 and with three made field goals to Ririe’s seven.
After a putback by Firth’s Hailey Gee 13 seconds into the second half, Ririe went on a 12-0 run capped off by Parkinson’s foul shots. The Bulldogs scored 11 points — nine from 3s by Parkinson, Sara Boone and Indee Williams — in the final 2:20 to take a 39-14 lead to end the third quarter. Boone’s 3 came 29 seconds after Parkinson’s, and Williams’s was at the buzzer.
Ririe entered the 40s on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, in which Smith subbed in Parkinson, Halley Guthrie, Paige Martinez and Maddie Johnson. All but two players on Ririe’s varsity roster ended the night with points, and six of them accounted for Ririe’s eight made 3-pointers.
“We’ve been looking to Maddie Johnson, Indee Williams and Anna Boone to score for us,” Smith said. “It’s good to see other players helping us out.”
Williams had 10 points, Parkinson had eight and Johnson and Anna Boone had seven points each for Ririe (7-4, 1-0), which plays at Snake River on Dec. 29 in its final game of 2018.
Gee and Hailey Barker had six points each to lead the Cougars (7-4, 0-1). Firth coach Sharla Cook said the Cougars defended and rebounded well in the first half Wednesday, but it was a rough night shooting.
“It was one of those nights where the ball wouldn’t go in the basket,” Cook said. “It was a good experience for us. We’ll regroup and get ready for North Fremont.”
Abby Schiess added five points for Firth, which hosts conference opponent North Fremont on Friday.