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Idaho Boys Basketball Top 25 (Jan. 10): Lewiston Enters the Rankings
After a blowout win over Moscow on Monday night, the Bengals (for the moment) are Class 5A's top-ranked team
Published: 1/10/2023 9:12:58 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster
brandon@idahosports.com
 

ORDER GAME PHOTOS

On a Monday night that was light on the schedule, Lewiston and Moscow got together for their second annual set of rivalry games at the University of Idaho's ICCU Arena.

The Bengal girls and boys earned a clean sweep over the Bears, and the Lewiston boys propelled their way into the Boys Basketball Daily Top 25 rankings with a lopsided 50-33 win.

As of this morning, Lewiston is the only Class 5A team that finds itself among the Top 25 in IdahoSports.com's Power Rankings.

Basketball purist will scoff at that notion, but rest assured.  As teams in north and east Idaho get into conference play, and the 5A Southern Idaho Conference schedule picks up, more 5A teams will find their way in.  It could happen as soon as tomorrow night, as a fully loaded Tuesday night of basketball promises to entertain.

For now, though, let's check under the hood of a Lewiston team that is oftentimes overshadowed by Lake City and Coeur d'Alene up north in the Inland Empire League.  

It's easy to forget that last year, the Bengals were really good, finishing 17-7 overall.  An 0-2 showing at the District Tournament, however, led to an offseason fueled by change.

The biggest change is first-year head coach Brooks Malm, who has injected energy and a defensive tenacity into the Bengals.  Defensively, Lewiston is only giving up 39.6 points per game.  Five times this year, Lewiston has held the opposition below 35 total points, a stat highlighted by last week's 31-18 suffocation of Post Falls.

What's the key to Lewiston's defensive prowess? Long, lanky athletes that have totally bought in to the concept of team defense.

The other big change for Lewiston is the offseason was figuring out who the new offensive leader would be, as Jace McKarcher (Lewiston's leading scorer the past two seasons) graduated.

Carson Way has stepped in and become one of the best perimeter shooters in the Inland Empire League this year.  On Monday night's win over Moscow, Way led the Bengals with 14 total points.  The post tandem of Karson Mader and James White finished with 13 and eight points, respectively.  Rylan Gomez, Drew Hottinger and Austin Lawrence are all key contributors, as well.

But again, it's the defense that has allowed Lewiston to start the year 9-2.  Their lone losses have come against Pullman, Washington and Lapwai, two high-octane offensive units.  If Lewiston can't control the tempo of the game, they tend to struggle.

After Monday's triumph over Moscow, Lewiston gets into the teeth of its schedule.  After a home game with Post Falls on Thursday, January 12th, the Bengals will face Coeur d'Alene twice, Lake City twice, Sandpoint and Clarkston, Washington (in the annual Golden Throne Game.)

That's a gauntlet of a schedule, but if Lewiston can continue to put the clamps down defensively, they could really turn some heads as the season winds down.

Here's the rest of the Top 25 Daily Boys Basketball Rankings:

CLASS 5A

1. Lewiston (9-2)

CLASS 4A

1. Pocatello (12-0)
2. Hillcrest (10-0)
3. Skyview (9-3)
4. Wood River (8-2)
5. Preston (11-3)
6. Minico (6-2)

CLASS 3A

1. Marsh Valley (9-2)
2. Teton (10-1)
3. Snake River (8-4)
4. McCall-Donnelly (6-2)

CLASS 2A

1. Melba (10-0)
2. Wendell (8-1)
3. Orofino (6-0)
4. Nampa Christian (10-2)
5. Cole Valley Christian (9-2)
6. Ririe (9-1)
7. Aberdeen (6-3)

CLASS 1AD1

1. Lapwai (11-0)
2. Lighthouse Christian (8-1)
3. Valley (8-1)
4. Troy (6-1)

CLASS 1AD2

1. Rockland (11-1)
2. Watersprings (11-2)
3. Richfield (9-0)
4. Camas County (6-1)

IN: Lewiston, Troy
OUT: Minico, St. Maries, Garden Valley

 

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