RIRIE — Defending 2A girls basketball state champion Soda Springs has left much of Idaho in its wake since last winter, and the latest to fall to the Cardinals was a particularly familiar opponent.

Facing each other for the first time since February’s state championship game, No. 1 state media poll ranked Soda Springs defeated No. 2 ranked Ririe 48-41 on Saturday afternoon in Ririe. The win was the 31st in a row for the Cardinals (5-0), who have played Ririe (4-2) at least once in seven of the last eight seasons.

After allowing 21 points in the first quarter, the Bulldogs temporarily took the lead in the third quarter but were outscored 11-5 in the fourth. The game featured three lead changes and two ties.

“Our middle quarters were solid,” Ririe coach Damien Smith said. “The last three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, we struggled to score. Giving up 29 points in the first half is a lot. (Soda Springs) is a great program. They don’t get rattled and they don’t give up.”

Soda Springs’ victory came less than 24 hours after defeating defending 3A state champion Sugar-Salem (ranked No. 2 in 3A), 60-57, in Sugar City. In addition to the Diggers, the Cardinals have defeated 4A programs Preston and Skyline this season. Soda Springs head coach Wade Schvaneveldt said Saturday was the quickest turnaround they had made between games, however, staying overnight Friday and rising early Saturday to travel to another state ranked opponent.

“This group plays well together,” Schvaneveldt said. “They trust each other. They did what they needed to do to finish the game in the fourth quarter.”

Indee Williams sank a 3-pointer 10 seconds into Saturday’s game and turned a rebound into a putback to put Ririe up 5-2 by the 6:51 mark of the first quarter. The Cardinals lit up the nets the remainder of the quarter to take a 21-11 lead, getting points from five players.

Soda Springs maintained a 10-point lead until 6:01 left in the second, when Maddie Johnson went 1-of-2 from the foul line and Williams hit a 3 to bring Ririe within 25-19. Reagan Yamauchi and Leilani Finlayson brought the Cardinals’ lead back to 29-19 with 3:12 left before Eden Griffith and Cassidy Parkinson cut Ririe’s deficit to 29-23 to end the first half.

After the teams traded turnovers to begin the second half, Johnson, Kenadee Coles and Anna Boone sent the Bulldogs on an 11-3 run to take a 34-30 lead at the 4:10 mark. The last nine of those points were 3-pointers by Coles and Boone (two back-to-back). The quarter ended with a 37-36 Soda Springs lead and a shot at the buzzer by Ririe sophomore Sara Boone.

“We told them to play better defense,” Smith said of entering the second half. “They did a great job of listening to the coaches and doing what we asked them to do, defensively and offensively.”

Ririe’s Cassidy Parkinson knotted the game at 38-38 with 6:30 left, which was the last tie of the afternoon. While the Bulldogs’ deficit was in the single digits, the Cardinals iced the game by going 6-for-11 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.

Sadie Gronning (14 points), Jorianne Balls (11 points) and Yamauchi (10 points) all finished with double-figure scoring for the Cardinals. Williams had nine points, Anna Boone had eight and Johnson had seven for Ririe, which begins play at the three-day Preston Tournament on Thursday.

Both teams have loaded nonconference schedules this season, and they will meet again Dec. 11 in Soda Springs.

Smith, who said this year’s schedule is the toughest in his 12 seasons as head coach, said games like Saturday’s help the Bulldogs strive to play at a higher level in an area rich with small school talent.

“Hopefully it helps their fortitude,” Smith said of his team. “I think Soda probably agrees that we’re both not at the level we were at late last year.”

Schvaneveldt said there are eastern Idaho 2A programs that could compete in 3A and 4A, and agreed with Smith that it is no coincidence that 11 of the last 13 Idaho girls basketball 2A state championships have gone to east Idaho teams.

“This part of the state has a lot of good players that often times I think get overlooked by college recruiters,” Schvaneveldt said. “So many of them could go on to play at the next level and do well.”

{blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”}{p lang=”it” xml:lang=”it” dir=”ltr”}#idpreps ⚡️ “No. 1 Soda Springs 48, No. 2 Ririe 41”https://t.co/wSjWD8yp87— Marlowe Hereford (@mwhereford) December 2, 2018{/blockquote}

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Marlowe Hereford is a sports reporter for the Post Register. Contact her at 208-542-6772 and find her on Twitter at @mwhereford.

Marlowe Hereford has worked for the Post Register since August 2011. She has covered 11 different high school sports, Olympic sports and recreational sports.

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