Cardinals’ season ends one game short of championship

Published 4:25 pm Monday, February 27, 2012

Daniel Bridges. (photo by Joey Millwood)

Landrum head coach Lyn Smith stood almost speechless.
Losses have been few and far between for the Cardinals this season en route to arguably the best season Landrum has ever experienced.
Landrum’s season ended one game too short for Smith, his team and the Cardinal faithful on Saturday afternoon. For the second time in four years, Landrum played for the upper state finals and were eliminated by Great Falls. The Red Devils beat the Cardinals 49-44.
For the most part, the game was a defensive deadlock to the surprise of many. Both teams rolled into the game having finished the season as No.1 and No. 2 in the state.
The Cardinals had been averaging nearly 90 points per game in the first three rounds of the state playoffs.
“We didn’t shoot very well,” Smith said. “Tonight (the shots) weren’t falling.”
In the early going, the Cardinals were carried by their top two scorers Daniel Bridges and Truston Whiteside. Whiteside scored 10 points in the first half and finished the game with 15. Bridges added 13 points.
The Cardinals took a 9-2 lead into the final minutes of the first quarter, but a 10-0 run to end the quarter gave Great Falls a 12-11 lead. Landrum was up 23-21 in the final seconds of the first half when Great Falls rebounded a missed 3-pointer and scored a controversial buzzer beater that had referees approaching the scorers’ table before finally counting the basket.
The Red Devils had the lead by the end of the third quarter at 39-35. The Cardinals fought back in the fourth.
“We were always willing to put the effort in to get back in the game,” senior point guard Cole McDowell said.
The Cardinals pulled within three points with 2:59 left in the fourth quarter after a basket by senior center Alex Bryant, but weren’t able to claw their way back.
“Defensively, I think we played well,” Smith said.
If only more shots had fallen.
“You got to make shots to win,” he said.
And while the sting of this loss is vivid right now, the fact that the Cardinals had an amazing season isn’t lost on the players and coaches.
“We had a good season,” Bryant said. “We played hard. That’s all we could do.”