NAMPA, Idaho — No seniors? No problem for the Kendrick Tigers.

Coach Ron Ireland’s youthful crew combined a dominating rebounding performance with pressure defense Wednesday to smother the Richfield Tigers 46-22 in the opening round of the Idaho Class 1A Division II girls’ basketball state tournament at Nampa High School.

Kendrick (19-5) now has its sights set on the championship game. To get there, they will have to beat Carey, a 50-46 overtime winner against Mackay in another first-round game earlier in the day. The last time Kendrick advanced to the title game, in 2013, the Tigers beat Carey on their way. This year’s Kendrick-Carey matchup is at 6 p.m. Pacific today at the same site.

But before Ireland turned his attention to the semifinal game, he marveled at Kendrick’s offensive rebounding and tenacious defense against Richfield (12-13).

“We got into that press and started to get some transition points and we thrive on that,” Ireland said. And as far as rebounding, “My girls work hard. On the glass, we controlled that.”

Eight of Kendrick’s 15 first-quarter points came on putbacks or free throws after offensive rebounds. By halftime, Kendrick had 11 offensive rebounds and a 29-9 lead. But the veteran coach knew not to let up.

“We emphasized keeping up the defensive pressure,” he said. “I’ve been around a long time and have seen teams (relax), and if you take it easy, you get in trouble real quick.”

Kendrick did just the opposite, holding Richfield to just three free throws in the third quarter. In fact, after Richfield scored a field goal with 31 seconds left in the first half, it didn’t hit another field goal until just 2:40 remained in the game.

Junior Drew Stacy had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Kendrick, which scored 15 second-chance points to none for Richfield.

“Drew Stacy, she reminds me of (former NBA great Dennis) Rodman,” Ireland said. “She’s a garbage player. She just has a nose for the ball. She’s tough.”

Stacy said the key to the huge rebounding edge was the Tigers following their shots.

“We’ve had some trouble with shooting so we’ve gotten pretty good at (following our shots),” she said.

She also said the Tigers focused on pushing the ball and not committing turnovers. And they only had two in the first half.

Regarding Carey, Ireland said, “In watching Mackay and Carey, I think we match up better with Carey. They have a good program. We are familiar with them.”

RICHFIELD (12-13)

Serena Kent 1 1-2 3, Mackenzie Riley 1 0-0 3, Ady Perkes 0 0-0 0, Kasey Hendren 1 2-4 4, Maddyson Jones 2 0-0 4, Taylor Newey 0 0-0 0, Tori Truman 0 3-4 3, Emma Telford 0 0-0 0, Jaci Telford 0 0-0 0, Clancy Peterson 0 0-0 0, Alexis Fuchs 1 1-2 3, Shelby Jones 1 0-2 2. Totals 7 7-14 22.

KENDRICK (19-5)

Rose Stewart 2 0-0 4, Harley Heimgartner 3 0-1 6, Rachel Olson 0 0-0 0, Drew Stacy 6 2-3 14, Hannah Tweit 2 0-0 5, Starlit Flint 0 0-0 0, Morgan Silflow 1 0-0 2, Erin Morgan 5 0-0 10, Sydney Cowley 0 0-0 0, Ruby Stewart 1 0-0 2, Hailey Taylor 1 0-0 3, Taylor Boyer 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 2-4 46.

Richfield 4 5 3 10—22

Kendrick 15 14 11 6—46

3-point goals — Riley, Tweit, Taylor.

Tatko may be reached at (208) 848-2268 or sports@lmtribune.com.

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