MERIDIAN – The Snake River Panthers took center stage as they opened the 2013 3A state basketball championship tournament with a 1:15 game with the Buhl Indians. Riding a nine game winning streak Snake River looked to run it to ten and that is exactly what they did, although it was a little tighter than anticipated, as they held off a furious Buhl comeback attempt before escaping with a 38-37 victory.
“I thought that we started the game out well, we came out and scored 17 points in that first quarter but then in the last three quarters we just went stagnant,” Snake River head coach Robert Coombs said. “We just were playing tentative. We were pretty tight for the first game and hopefully tomorrow we won’t be as tight.”
Indeed the first quarter action was all Snake River as they sprinted from the gates, building a double digit lead as Mason Watt closed out the opening stanza with a three ball and a 17-7 Panther lead.
That was the only three point basket that Snake River tallied on the afternoon however as the basket seemed to shrink in diameter after the nice opening quarter.
“I thought that we were executing our offense and we got some point blank shots at the basket and we need to do a better job of finishing and I told the kids that after the game,” Coach Coombs said.
Despite the difficulties from the field Snake River still led by nine at the halftime buzzer and eventually pushed the lead out to as many as 13 points as Jacoby Johnson cashed in on a drive in the paint with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson finished with a team high 9 points for the Panthers.
That proved to be the final field goal for the Panthers though as Buhl began chipping away at the Panther lead.
With Snake River struggling from the free throw line, Buhl were able to close the gap to just two points and with 0:20 remaining in the ball game, the Indians called time out to set up the potential game tying or winning play.
Wyatt Wray foiled that effort however as he stepped into the passing lane, forcing a turnover by the Indians with 0:11 remaining. Brad Coombs was fouled on the inbounds play and on the ensuing charity tosses he hit one of two to push the lead out to three at 38-35.
Buhl got two chances to tie the game, the first of which was foiled by Wray once again as he blocked the three point shot. The game officials put 3.1 seconds back on the clock giving Buhl one more shot but it was well off the mark and despite the put back at the buzzer, Snake River was victorious with the one point victory.
“It’s always our goal on the defensive end and if we can hold a team to 37 points it gives us a chance to be in the game,” Coach Coombs said. “Tomorrow will be the same thing and both of the teams who we could play are pretty good but defense is what got us here so hopefully we will continue to play hard on the offensive end and maybe we will come out a little bit looser and shoot the ball a little bit better.”
The Panthers return to the court tonight for a 6:15 semi-final game.
SNAKE RIVER 38, BUHL 37
Snake River 17 7 9 5 – 38
Buhl 7 8 8 14 - 37
Snake River (38) – Adrian Castaneda 5, Jacoby Johnson 9, Cole Rushton 6, Nate Martin 1, Brad Coombs 7, Mason Watt 3, Curtis Keller 3, Wyatt Wray 4. FG: 15. FT: 7-17. 3-pointers: 1-14 (Mason Watt). Rebounds: 38 (Jacoby Johnson 6). Assists: 6 (Cole Rushton 2). Fouls: 8. Fouled out: none.
Buhl (37) – Taylor Oppedyk 4, Jacob DeKruyf 6, Kade Crossland 18, Kasey Crossland 3, Thys VanderBerg 6. FG: 15. FT: 2-3. 3-pointers: 5-22 (Kade Crossland 4, Kasey Crossland 1). Rebounds: 28 (Thys VanderBerg 6). Assists: 9 (Hayden Eckert 4). Fouls: 12. Fouled out: (Kasey Crossland).