COEUR d’ALENE — One moment, Caden McLean was on his backside, after taking a shot to the face while closely guarding a Coeur d’Alene player in the backcourt.
The next moment, after Post Falls came up with a steal, McLean sprinted to the corner, received a pass from Alex Horning and buried a 3-pointer with 1:11 to play to cap a comeback and give the Trojans the lead for good.
Post Falls erased a five-point lead with a 10-0 run, and held Coeur d’Alene to two points over the game’s final five minutes to beat the Vikings 50-44 in 5A Inland Empire League play Thursday night at Viking Court.
“We just don’t give up very easily,” said McLean, who scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. “We just all played really good defense at the end. We just needed to deal with adversity.”
Post Falls (15-3, 2-1 5A IEL), ranked No. 4 in this week’s state media poll, trailed 42-37 following a driving bank shot by Alex Karns of Coeur d’Alene (5-9, 0-3) with 5 minutes left. McLean put the Trojans ahead with a personal 8-0 run — a steal and a layup, three free throws, then the dagger 3. Isaac Ballew, who finished with nine points, capped the 10-0 run with two free throws with 31.5 seconds left.
Meanwhile, the Vikings missed the front end of three one-and-ones down the stretch, and didn’t score in the last 5 minutes until another basket by Karns with 15 seconds left.
“Unfortunately, free throws have been a killer for us this year,” said Coeur d’Alene coach Tony Hanna, whose team was 3 of 9 from the line. “We haven’t been in that position a lot. We’re still young; we have to learn to play with the lead in crunch time.”
Coeur d’Alene, which had lost its last two games — both at home — by a combined 30 points, jumped on Post Falls with a 10-2 start to the game, and sent Trojans star Colby Gennett to the bench with two quick fouls. Gennett returned in the second quarter, and Post Fall outscored the Vikings 13-5 to lead 27-23 at the half.
Coeur d’Alene outscored Post Falls 12-4 to open the third quarter, with Devon Johnson scoring five of his seven points. The Trojans tied it at 35 after three, but the Vikings opened the fourth with a 7-2 burst, triggered by a 3-pointer by sophomore Brayden Bengtson, who finished with a team-high 12 points.
“I’ve seen Coeur d’Alene play five times, and I’ve never seen them play harder than they did tonight,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “They had a plan to take the fight to us. They knocked us to the canvas ... but we righted the ship.”
Gennett finished with 10 points for the Trojans.
Both teams played without starting guards, Cole Rutherford (ankle) for Post Falls and Mayson Whittaker (concussion protocol) for Coeur d’Alene.
“The resiliency our guys showed, that’s us having played in nasty, tough environments,” McLean said. “You can’t come back from that if you haven’t been there before. It’s huge that our guys have been in the wars before.”
Sophomore Cameren Cope added nine points and 14 rebounds for Coeur d’Alene, and Karns also finished with nine points.
“Honestly, I was so proud of my guys,” Hanna said. “My kids played their tails off.”
Coeur d’Alene plays host to Lake City (9-4, 1-1) next Thursday. Post Falls returns to action next Friday at home vs. league-leading Lewiston (10-3, 2-0), looking to avenge a loss to the Bengals two weeks ago in Lewiston.
Post Falls 14 13 8 15 — 50
Coeur d’Alene 18 5 12 9 — 44
POST FALLS — Gennett 10, McLean 20, Rodriguez 2, Ballew 9, Lee 2, Horning 7, Shields 0.
COEUR d’ALENE — Bengtson 12, Johnson 7, Karns 9, Cope 9, O. Smith 0, Prka 3, McLaughlin 4.