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POCATELLO - It is often said that offense is for the highlight reels and defense wins games. The Snake River Panthers turned on the defense Tuesday night as they completely dominated the American Falls Beavers in District 5 basketball tournament action 57-38.
Though the final margin was nineteen points, the game was never that close in play as the Panthers forced turnovers on the first five American Falls possessions on their way to a 17-3 lead. The Beavers Josh Wegeman heaved a desperation shot from near half court as the period ended and when the ball went through the hoop, the quarter ended with the Panthers leading 17-6.
"We came out and played pretty good defensively," said Coach Robert Coombs. "We jumped on them early and that made a big difference in the game for us tonight."
With all the turnovers, Snake River was able to get some easy buckets and offensively got into a very smooth rhythm early on as senior Candon Watt hit a pair of three pointers early in the contest and distributed the ball to the open man on a number of occasions as the Panthers only missed on a half dozen shot attempts in the first half.
"We have great senior leadership on this team," said Coach Coombs. "Keegan (Keller), Candon and C.J. (Toulouse) have all played a lot of games for us and know what we expect. They lead by example and the younger guys are willing to follow that lead."
While the Beavers were saddled with the turnover bug, Snake River substituted liberally and kept finding the bottom of the bucket. By the half time, the Panther lead had swelled to 18 points at 33-15 and Coach Coombs had used nearly all of the players who suited up for the contest.
The Panthers left no doubt as to who the winner would be with a quick start in the third period. Candon Watt hit another three ball and C.J. Toulouse scored on four straight shots from the inside and the starters were pulled midway through the period.
"We were having some trouble rebounding in recent games and wanted to give some younger kids the chance to show us what they could do in a big situation," said Coach Coombs. "Brad is a big kid and he gave us a lift with some shots and hustle rebounds."
Freshman Brad Coombs entered the game early in the first half and played a good portion of the game, gathering in eight rebounds, two of them on the offensive end of the floor, and chipped in with eight points as well.
With the victory, Snake River remained alive for a chance at a return trip to next week's state tournament in Boise. The Panthers will play next on Thursday at 7:00 pm at Pocatello High School against the loser of the Marsh Valley/Bear Lake contest Tuesday night.
AFHS 6 9 9 14 38
SRHS 17 16 17 7 57
American Falls (38) Ryan Wright 4, Justin Kress 1, Jordan Schutt 7, Josh Wageman 6, Austin Patterson 2, Mason Ship 2, Alex Mancilla 6, Tony Torres 10 rebounds (15) Torres 6 assists (6) Wright 3 FT 9/17 3 pt FG 1/9 Wageman total fouls (12) fouled out - none
Snake River (57) Jacoby Johnson 8, Keegan Keller 4, Braden Watt 1, Cole Rushton 4, Candon Watt 18, C.J. Toulouse 10, Tyler Roll 4, Brad Coombs 8 rebounds (25) Coombs 8 assists (15) C. Watt 5 FT 4/6 3 pt FG 4/8 C. Watt 3, B. Coombs total fouls (14) fouled out - none