POCATELLO — The Snake River Panthers opened defense of their conference championship on Wednesday evening as the top seeded squad squared off with the American Falls Beavers at Pocatello High School.
The game started in nightmarish fashion for the Panthers as they struggled from the field and the free throw line in the opening stanza as they shot 10 of 19 from the charity stripe and connected on just one shot from the field.
Adding injury to insult was the horrific moment when Brad Coombs laid screaming on the floor with a dislocated toe. Despite the rough beginning however, Snake River showed their depth and talent as they cruised into next Tuesday nights conference championship game with a 63-42 victory.
"We really came out tight to start," Snake River head coach Bob Coombs said. "We didn't shoot the ball well but we were attacking the hole which got them into foul trouble which is what we wanted to do. Once we calmed down I though that we did pretty well."
And calm down the Panthers did as they opened the second quarter on a 13-2 run to take a commanding 25-8 lead. That lead eventually ballooned to 30 at 52-22 courtesy of a Mason Watt basket to open the fourth quarter of play.
Watt finished with 14 points on the evening, 9 of which came from behind the arc as he canned a trio of long range bombs.
Cole Rushton also tallied 14 points in the win as the senior showed his leadership with an aggressive inside presence which was nearly unstoppable for most of the evening.
"We are pretty deep and we got some good games from guys like Mason, Nate [Martin] and Kade Keller off of the bench," Coach Coombs said. "We should be able to put anybody on the floor because we run the same system throughout our program all the way down to the seventh grade team so it isn't like they don't know what we are doing out there."
Curtis Keller and Wyatt Wray controlled the paint all evening long as the lanky duo combined for 16 points on the low blocks on the offensive end and defensively, it was a block party all evening long as they did their best impressions of Manute Bul of NBA fame.
"First game in the district tournament is always tricky," Coach Coombs said. "It's the post season and the post season is definitely different than the regular season."
Snake River will have six days to heal up and be ready for the conference championship game which will tip off at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at Pocatello High School.
SNAKE RIVER 63, AMERICAN FALLS 42
American Falls 6 10 6 20 - 42
Snake River 12 17 21 13 - 63
American Falls (42) - Jordan Schutt 5, Logan Mower 4, Austin Patterson 18, Challis Stewart 2, Jerrik Ostler 2, Bill Rowe 2, Ryland Lasley 3, Bo Patterson 1, Trenton Bammert 5. FG: 12. FT: 13-24. 3-pointers: 5-14 (Logan Mower 1, Austin Patterson 4). Fouls: 22. Fouled out: none. Technical Fouls: Bench.
Snake River (63) - Adrian Castaneda 6, Kade Keller 6, Kade Harral 1, Cole Rushton 14, Nate Martin 6, Mason Watt 14, Curtis Keller 8, Wyatt Wray 8. FG: 15. FT: 19-33. 3-pointers: 4-14. (Adrian Castaneda 1, Mason Watt 3). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: none.