BOISE — A year ago, the Idaho Stampede didnt get to enjoy a win until seven games into their season.
Coach Michael Peck wont have to wait that long for his first win in his second season with the team.
Guard Pierre Jackson scored a game-high 29 points as the Stampede defeated the Bakersfield Jam 121-113 in the season opener for both teams Friday night at CenturyLink Arena.
Honestly, I told a few close friends before the game, I dont know, Peck said. I really didnt know how we were going to do. But our guys got locked in and dialed in and they brought it.
Peck learned his first lesson about his team Friday night. Lesson No. 2 comes Saturday night as Idaho hosts Bakersfield again.
You get baptized fast in this league, he said. Our next immediate challenge is how we bounce back. (The Jam) are going to try to punch us in the mouth right out of the gate, and how we respond is going to say a lot about us.
Win or lose, Peck is likely to feel better after two games than he did last season, when Idaho stumbled out of the gates with a 1-12 record. The theme in many of those games was the lack of a physical presence inside as big man Dallas Lauderdale watched courtside in street clothes.
After one game, its safe to say that the Stampede are better off when Lauderdale is in uniform.
New year, new result, the 6-foot-8, 260-pound Lauderdale said. Last year, I took the whole year off (with a foot injury), and it wasnt fun. Im just grateful to be out there.
Lauderdale is one of two players on the roster, along with veteran Jason Ellis of Boise State, who was on hand to witness Idahos slow start. So he knows the importance of the first victory.
Its big, he said. Its big for the people who know what happened last year, the fans, me and coach Peck. And like I said, its a new team, a new result and a new year.
Lauderdale said Friday was the first game he played that mattered since he played in a pro game in Poland two years ago. He went 5-for-5 from the field and finished with 10 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 28 minutes.
Idaho got balanced scoring, as seven players finished in double figures, but a couple of players made bigger impacts in the opener.
Reggie Hearn (15 points) hit a couple of big 3-pointers in the third quarter that seemed to swing the momentum in Idahos favor for good.
Hes strong, hes smart and he plays hard, Peck said.
Forward Richard Howell went 8-for-10 from the field and scored 10 points in the fourth quarter before finishing with a double-double (21 points, 12 rebounds).
Thats huge, Peck said. He has great hands, hes mobile and he can rebound out of his area.
Add it all up, with the guard play of Jackson and Dee Bost (17 points, nine assists) and Idaho might just be on to something.
We have some of the best guards in the league, Lauderdale said. They can get anywhere they want to get on the court.
NOTE: Idaho forward Kellen Thornton missed the game after leaving Thursdays practice because he felt light-headed and dizzy. Peck said the team wanted the Portland Trail Blazers to clear Thornton before he plays again. Portland is Idahos NBA affiliate.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424