SUGAR CITY — What a difference eight minutes makes.
That’s all it took for the Sugar-Salem High School girls basketball team to turn an 11-0 deficit into a 25-19 halftime lead in Wednesday’s Mountain Rivers Conference opener against South Fremont in Sugar City.
The Diggers never let the deficit get into single digits from midway through the third quarter onward, ending Wednesday’s rivalry game much differently than it began en route to a 47-30 win.
In the first quarter, it was the Cougars who worked the glass, grabbed steals and completed hustle plays to shut out Idaho’s No. 1 state media poll ranked 3A team 11-0. Five of those points were from Olivia LeCheminant, including a 3-pointer that prompted a Sugar-Salem timeout at the 3:42 mark.
The Diggers flipped the script in the second quarter, exploding for 25 points points to take the lead and enter halftime ahead.
Wednesday was Sugar-Salem’s first game since winning the Jerry Callen Memorial Girls Basketball Tournament on Dec. 29 in Jerome, and Sugar-Salem head coach Crystal Dayley said she was glad to see how the Diggers turned the game around.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a game where we’ve been held scoreless in a quarter,” Dayley said. “We couldn’t buy a basket. I’m glad that we held our composure and made up for it in the second quarter. Once we got that first bucket and got the lid off the basket, our shots started to fall a little better.”
Those shots fell in droves in the second half.
All 12 of Sugar-Salem’s third quarter points were from 3s (two from Madi Fillmore, one from Kayla Luke, one from Lindsey Larson), stretching the lead to double figures. The Diggers took their largest lead of 47-27 off a Mariah Dunn layup with 2:58 left in the fourth quarter, and South Fremont got their final baskets off a 1-of-2 foul shot performance from Brinlie Rowbury and a putback from Harlee Speth.
South Fremont head coach Ryan Erikson, whose team is off to its best start in eight years, said teams can’t play timid against Sugar-Salem.
“We executed our plan in the first quarter and that’s the end of it,” Erikson said. “After that, they turned on their press, which we talked about. Against a team like Sugar, you can’t play timid at any point. Hats off to Sugar. They adjusted in the second quarter.”
Fillmore ended the night with a game-high 17 points, including seven in Sugar’s second quarter scoring fury.
“She was a huge spark plug for us,” Dayley said. “She had a great game offensively and defensively.”
Fillmore said she prefers to take a game one quarter at a time and treated Wednesday’s second quarter as a clean slate.
“The first quarter we were scoreless but the second quarter is a whole new game,” Fillmore said. “We knew we had to come out with a lot of fire and a lot of heart. I think that the most important thing is creating opportunities for other people. I just tried to do as much as I could, stay positive and keep the team up.”
Luke added nine points (including three of Sugar’s 3-pointers) while Larson had seven for Sugar-Salem (14-2, 1-0), which plays Friday at Teton.
LeCheminant had eight points while Speth and Brinlie Rowbury each had six for South Fremont (8-8, 0-1), which hosts Shelley on Friday.
SUGAR-SALEM 47, SOUTH FREMONT 30
South Fremont 11 8 5 6—30
Sugar-Salem 0 25 12 10—47
SOUTH FREMONT (30)—Kenzie Parker 2, Carly Hikida 3, Brinlie Rowbury 6, Paizlee Hobbs 5, Harlee Speth 6, Olivia LeCheminant 8. FG: 11. FT: 4-7. 3-pointers: 4 (LeCheminant 2, Hikida 1, Rowbury 1). Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: none.
SUGAR-SALEM (47)—Savanah Crane 2, Kayla Luke 9, Macie Knapp 4, Sarah Maughan 4, Madi Fillmore 17, Lindsey Larson 7, Mariah Dunn 4. FG: 20. FT: 1-8. 3-pointers: 6 (Luke 3, Fillmore 2, Larson 1). Total fouls: 16. Fouled out: none