RIRIE — Getting points from all 10 varsity players, the Ririe High School girls basketball team prompted a running clock by the fourth quarter in Wednesday’s 45-13 win over West Jefferson.
The win gave the No. 3 state media poll ranked Bulldogs sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the Nuclear Conference with a 4-0 record, but it also occurred with a noticeable void on the court.
The Panthers (13-4 overall, 3-1 conference, tied for No. 4 in the first 2A state media poll of 2019) played without senior Jordi Holdaway, who sat on the end of the bench in a dress. District 6’s leader in scoring (17.93 points per game), rebounds (10 rebounds per game) and steals (5.4 steals per game), Holdaway hurt her knee in West Jefferson’s 38-32 win over Firth on Saturday.
Wednesday was the first time this season the Panthers played without their do-it-all starting point guard, and Ririe head coach Damien Smith said he had no idea until warm ups that she would not be playing.
“I was impressed with West J’s effort tonight without her,” Smith said. “They came ready to play. That says a lot about their program and their coaches.”
West Jefferson head coach Jalena Dixon said Holdaway came down hard in the Firth game. Although she couldn’t play, Holdaway was in every huddle Wednesday, cheered after every Panthers basket and stood up every time West Jefferson attempted a shot.
“We’re just gonna rest her and see if we can get her better,” Dixon said. “I’m proud of my kids’ performance tonight. They fought. They never gave up.”
Even sans Holdaway, the battle for the No. 1 spot in the Nuclear Conference was a defensive showcase early Wednesday. The game was deadlocked at 2-2 until 2:08 remaining in the first quarter, when Ririe’s Kenadee Coles hit a 3. The Panthers answered with a layup from Saige Moss 30 seconds later, and Ririe ended the quarter up 9-4 with buckets from Maddie Johnson and Sara Boone in the final 70 seconds.
The lead stretched to 15-6 at halftime after a competitive second quarter. The Bulldogs got points from seven players in the first half.
“Coach Smith said in the huddle, ‘If we don’t get our energy up every game, we’re not gonna win. Don’t let up’,” Coles said.
The Bulldogs got 16 points from six players to take a 31-11 lead after the third quarter, which began with contributions from Ririe starters and ended with subs.
Ririe’s bench players stayed in from the 2:47 mark of the third quarter to the 7:00 mark of the fourth quarter and then were sent back into the game with 1:45 left by an audibly enthusiastic Smith.
“I thought they brought up the energy of the team,” Smith said. “They came in and executed the way I asked them.”
Smith added that Coles, one of several players who came off the bench and made hustle play after hustle play Wednesday, has been the ‘ultimate teammate’ ever since the Bulldogs tweaked their starting lineup before the Dec. 29 Snake River game.
“I’m just giving him everything I have,” Coles said. “I trust him.”
Indee Williams and Anna Boone joined Coles with eight points each for Ririe, which plays Friday at Firth. Saige Moss had six points and Shaylee Anhder added four points for West Jefferson, which hosts Salmon one week from tonight.
Dixon commended Anhder for starting at point guard in place of Holdaway for the first time and all the Panthers for not backing down against ‘one of the best teams in the state.’
“We can only go up from here,” Dixon said.