Up for another challenge

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LOREN BENOIT/Press Post Falls guard Mackenzie Morris goes for a layup against Lewiston’s Kendyll Kinzer in the 5A Region 1 championship game last week at Post Falls High School.

Even after watching his team go 21-2 and advance to the state 5A tournament, seventh-year Post Falls coach Marc Allert still doesn’t think his team has played its best basketball of the season yet.

This is coming off a 75-37 win in the Region 1 championship game against Lewiston, capping an unbeaten season in 5A Inland Empire League play.

“Our first goal was to win the league,” Allert said. “It all started with our schedule at the start of the year, challenging ourselves.”

And the Trojans have stood up to the challenge, with losses to Central Valley High of Spokane Valley (59-48) and to Liberty High of Henderson, Nev., in the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas.

“Going to Vegas and playing against Central Valley, it’s really helped us along the way,” Allert said. “We’re just trying to peak at the right time. The good thing is that we played well (in the regional title game on Feb. 6), but we haven’t played our best basketball yet.”

Post Falls advanced to state last year for the first time since 2013, when the Trojans beat Coeur d’Alene for the state championship. They finished third last year, falling to Eagle in the semifinals.

“Getting there, we got a taste of it last year,” Allert said. “And the girls kind of liked it. We talked about how it felt to walk away after that loss (in a semifinals), and it hurt. We don’t want that feeling again.”

In case you forgot, Post Falls led Eagle 54-52 with 1:58 remaining, but was held scoreless in the final moments as the Mustangs rallied for the win.

Eagle then lost to Centennial in the title game.

“We’re both really similar to last year,” Allert said. “Both teams pretty much have everyone back.”

Eagle (24-0), who finished runner-up to Centennial of Boise, opens with Boise on Thursday at 12:15 p.m. PST at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. The Mustangs (17-7), ranked as high as eighth in the USA Top 25 girls basketball rankings, are 24th this week. Bonneville (22-1) of Idaho Falls opens with Mountain View of Meridian following the Eagle-Boise game. Borah (18-5) of Boise plays Highland (15-9) of Pocatello in Thursday’s late game.

“We’ve kind of kept an eye on Eagle, but Bonneville has only lost one game too,” said Allert, whose team opens with Capital High of Boise at 5:15 on Thursday. “There’s some good teams down there, so Eagle’s not what we’re thinking about right now. Whoever we play next is who we care about. Honestly, I don’t know that the kids know what Eagle’s record is. They’re just focused on the next game and don’t worry about those other things.”

But yes, some of the members of the Post Falls team have seen the national rankings.

“We’ve seen them, but we really don’t care at this point,” Post Falls senior post Melody Kempton said. “We’re ready to go down and do what we can do. We’ve given ourselves a challenging schedule this year. Hopefully, that’s got us prepared to go down to state.”

“We control what we can control,” Post Falls senior guard Bayley Brennan said. “We’ve heard about Eagle, and know they’re good, so we definitely want to meet them in the championship game. We want to redeem ourselves from last year.”

First up is Capital, the fourth-place team from District 3.

“I’ve watched a little bit of film on them and their coach texted me about exchanging film instead of having to go through other coaches,” Allert said. “I haven’t seen a lot on them. Actually, Katie King (who played on Post Falls’ state title team in 2013, then played at North Idaho College) is helping with their JV team. She texted me congratulations and we’ll see you next week. It was perfect. I didn’t ask her for any insight because I didn’t want to put her in that spot.”

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