St. Maries’ boys basketball team’s pair of season-opening games this week will give little time to ease into the winter.

Two home games, a matchup Thursday with 4A Sandpoint followed by a contest Saturday against defending state 1AD1 champion, Prairie, mark games one and two for the Lumberjacks, who are battling injuries, some suffered during football season.

“Eli (Gibson) is still a little banged up, and Colby (Renner) is out until probably February,” Coach Chase said. “But we’ve got some big guys that have done a good job in practices and will definitely see good time for us. Tristan Nelson and Randie Becktel give us a presence under the basket, and both move really well.”

Prairie is coming off a 1AD1 state football championship win Nov. 22. The Pirates jumped into basketball practices the Nov. 25, the following Monday, a situation St. Maries faced just three seasons ago after winning the 2A title in 2016.

“It’s definitely a hard balance. As a basketball coach, you’re eager to get them going, but the kids need a break, so those first couple days are rough,” Coach Chase commented. “That being said, Prairie has got a really good thing going over there, and they’ve just got a good group of athletes, so we know they’ll be ready to play Saturday.”

Tipoff Thursday between St. Maries and Sandpoint is set for 7 p.m., and Saturday’s contest with Prairie begins at 5:30 p.m., both at St. Maries High School.

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