Lady Badgers to play in conference championship game tonight

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—Photo by DAC COLLINS Kadi Bateman goes up for three in the Badgers’ game against Genesis Prep earlier this season.

The Bonners Ferry varsity girls basketball team will play for the Intermountain League (IML) conference championship tonight after beating the No. 2 seeded Kellogg team yesterday, Feb. 7, in the semifinals (54-45). They will take on the same potent Timberlake team that won their last matchup on Feb. 3 by nearly 50 points (72-25).

Last Friday night’s game, which took place in Timberlake’s gym, was a brutal loss for the Bagers. It seems that the Tigers, who are still undefeated in league play, have given everyone in the IML fits this season—something the Badgers’ head coach Rich Feickert can attest to.

“Well, I would say most people in the league would agree any game against Timerlake is a tough one,” Feickert quipped.

Timberlake’s deep, talented team put up huge numbers on offense—50 points by halftime compared to the Badgers’ 16. Three Tigers scored double digits, while Kassy Skeen led Bonners Ferry with six points.

According to Feickert, the Timberlake team is fundamentally solid, and they just have too many weapons on their bench for most teams to compete with: “These girls are like carbon copies of each other. They look like machines...you replace one of them with another girl and she does exactly the same as before. Then the third comes in...they’re interchangeable.”

Feickert also said that while he hates to sound in awe of the competition, he is certainly impressed by Timberlake’s program, in particular the way that their head coach Matt Miller has been able to build up such a dominant basketball program over the years.

He says Miller’s secret is starting with the players when they are young and focusing on fundamental basketball. Miller has been a mentor for a few of his upperclassmen since they were in grade school and he continues to work with girls at the elementary level during the offseason so that by the time they get to highschool they are well-equipped to take the court.

“He’s done what every coach would love to do,” Feickert says of Miller, “which is take girls and start ‘em young, teach ‘em good fundamentals, and then many years later you have the fruits of your labors.”

Luckily for Feickert, he has a solid team of athletes who are not intimidated by the number one team in the league. That being said, the girls have their work cut out for them tonight.

If Bonners Ferry pulls out a win against Timberlake, they will be named IML champs and given an automatic berth to the state tournament. If they lose, they will play for a berth to the tournament on Friday against whoever wins tonight’s matchup between Kellogg and Priest River.

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