NAMPA — The Snake River Panthers came up just short in their bid for a 3A boys state basketball championship on Saturday afternoon as the defending champion Fruitland Grizzlies were able to hold off the Panthers by a 57-51 tally.
"Fruitland needs to be congratulated," Snake River head coach Robert Coombs said. "They are a good team, made plays and did a good job of controlling the tempo on us."
Nerves, a new environment, whatever the case may be but Fruitland was able to jump out of the gate with the games first 6 points. The Panthers settled down after the early barrage eventually tying the game with a 6-0 run of their own but that was all the scoring that the Panthers could muster in the first quarter of play and after a lay in at the buzzer by Fruitland, the Panthers were facing a 12-6 deficit.
"Fruitland was just a little more aggressive than us," Coach Coombs said. "I thought that they did a good job of attacking us on the offensive end and defensively, they challenged us."
That lead eventually ballooned to 19-8 early on in the second quarter but an Andres Garza three ball stemmed the momentum as the Panthers fought back to a six point deficit. Unfortunately, a three ball by Fruitlands Hagen Graves at the buzzer erased all of the hard work in the quarter and as the two teams headed to the Idaho Center locker rooms, the Grizzlies led 29-20.
The Panthers have been down before however and the Men in Purple came out fighting in the third quarter of play as they outscored the Grizzlies 12-5 in the frame. Tyler Porter was huge at the end of the quarter as he got loose behind the defense for a pair of baskets and heading to the fourth quarter, Panther fans had something to cheer for as the score stood at 34-32.
That was as close as the Panthers could get however as the Grizzlies had an answer every time the Panthers got to within a bucket. The biggest difference in the ball game was the free throw line with Fruitland knocking down 21 of 30 attempts. Meanwhile, Snake River was sent to the line just 13 times where they knocked down 9 of those.
Jacoby Johnson had another nice game for the Panthers as he turned in a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Shane Parkinson pitched in 12 points under heavy defensive pressure.
"You know, we are going to miss our seniors," Coach Coombs said. "We had a great year. Second place is nothing to hang your head about. We will have a lot of kids coming back next year and hopefully we can get back here again."
SNAKE RIVER 6 14 12 19 - 51
FRUITLAND 12 17 5 23 - 57
Snake River (51) - Andres Garza 3, Tyler Porter 5, Jacoby Johnson 13, Cooper Peterson 7, Cole Rushton 3, Brad Coombs 6, Shane Parkinson 12, Wyatt Wray 2. FG: 19/57. FT: 9/13. 3-pointers: 4/15 (Garza, Johnson, Parkinson 2) Rebounds: 43 (Johnson 10) Fouls: 22. Fouled out: (Coombs).
Fruitland (57) - Bryce Nattress 9, Lane LaCrone 2, Hagen Graves 5, Jordan Little 2, James Livingston 22, Daniel Dahle 2, Scott Kayley 2, Joey Martarano 7, Alec Dhaenens 6. FG: 16/53. FT: 21/30. 3-pointers: 4/9 (Nattress, Graves, Livingston 2) Rebounds: 39 (Dhaenens 5) Fouls: 17. Fouled out: (none)