NAMPA — For the past several seasons the Snake River Lady Panthers have been knocking on the door. On Saturday, the Lady Panthers kicked that door in and then sprinted their way to the first girls state basketball championship in program history as they downed the Filer Wildcats 51-34 at the Idaho Center in Nampa.
"It's the first time that a Snake River Panther girls basketball team has been in a state championship game and the kids responded real well," Snake River head coach Rich Dunn said. "The funny thing about it is that our first two games over here this weekend were probably the worst that we've played in the four years that we've been here. It just so happens that this year we were able to get ourselves into the championship game and I thought that tonight was the first night that we played good basketball. It's good to get over that hump. You have to get there to be that program and we want to be that program."
Early on it was all Wildcats as they built a quick ten point lead with a basket at the 6:53 mark in the second quarter as Snake River trailed 18-8.
That's when Snake River awoke however as they turned up the defensive pressure, closing the second quarter on a 16-4 run, including a dagger at the buzzer when Makena Shelley dialed long distance directly in front of the Filer bench, sending the Lady Panthers to the break with a 24-22 lead.
"Our goal was to be close at the half because we don't have a lot of depth. We're eight deep and when you have to play three nights in a row it's something that you have to overcome," Coach Dunn said. "We worked on our little zone press at our shoot around today that we've kept in our bag all year because we really haven't had to use it and when we were down ten we knew we would have to go to that press to create some turnovers and it went our way."
Filer tied the game on their first offensive possession of the second half but the Snake River defense then clamped down on the Wildcats, as they allowed three more points for the remainder of the quarter while the offense tallied 11 in the frame.
"It's funny. We are a man defensive team and we didn't run man all night," Coach Dunn said. "What we did though was run our zone with a man to man mentality and I really think that it threw them for a loop because there really isn't any film out there on our zone defense."
In addition to the solid defensive performance, the Lady Panthers also did a fabulous job of rebounding against a Filer team that sported a trio of girls who stood over six feet tall. Brylie Bair was the stalwart of the Lady Panthers rebounding efforts as Bair ripped down 17 rebounds on the evening to finish the night with a double-double as she added 13 points. She also drew 11 fouls on that trio of bigs down low, saddling the Wildcats with the dreaded foul trouble.
"When you get over here to state it's a physical game and I think that Brylie Bair responds to that really well and that zone put her into position but she did a good job of finding body first before boxing out," Coach Dunn said.
"I've played that girl in volleyball so I came out knowing that I needed to put my best effort in and with it being the last game I not only wanted to do it for myself but for my team," Bair said. "Everytime I see someone with that kind of talent it makes me want to do just as good."
Snake River put the finishing touches on their state championship with a 16-7 fourth quarter. Snake River were led by Shelley and her 15 points. Kylie Coby added 11 and Madison Pilster added 10 as four out of the starting five tallied double-digits in the scoring column, much to the delight of the large contingent of Snake River fans who made the trip to Nampa.
SNAKE RIVER 51, FILER 34
Filer 14 8 5 7 - 34
Snake River 8 16 11 16 - 51
Filer (34) - Anna Williams 2, Katie Hughes 13, Sarah Sharp 2, Jenna Jarolimek 4, Alyssa Case 2, Sierra Koyle 3, Kassidy Moon 2, Cassidy Ferrell 6. FG: 13. FT: 8-19. 3-pointers: 0-6. Fouls: 21. Fouled out: (Sarah Sharp). Rebounds: 43 (Cassidy Ferrell 9). Turnovers: 22.
Snake River (51) - Madison Pilster 10, Makena Shelley 15, Scout Baldwin 2, Brylie Bair 13, Kylie Coby 11. FG: 16. FT: 14-25. 3-pointers: 5-18 (Madison Pilster 1, Makena Shelley 3, Kylie Coby 1). Fouls: 16. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: 42 (Brylie Bair 17). Turnovers: 14.