THOMAS — Snake River vs Blackfoot. A highly charged situation regardless of circumstances. On Wednesday night, the emotions were ratcheted up just a bit as Blackfoot took to the hardwood with their coach in the stands but not on the bench due to a controversial decision by the Blackfoot superintendent.
The Blackfoot players honored their embattled coach by wearing his name on the back of their warm ups as well as his initials on their arms.
"I know that Blackfoot are having a lot of problems right now and we feel for them but we told our kids too just come out and play our game, stay focused and do the things that we want to do and get after it and play," Snake River head coach Robert Coombs said. "I wish coach Packer the best. They have a good ball team and I hate to see anybody go through that."
After a pre-game ceremony in which the Snake River executive counsel gave Blackfoot a generous $400 contribution from a charity drive, the game tipped off with typical Blackfoot-Snake River intensity.
In an entertaining first quarter Blackfoot opened with the games first 5-points. Snake River responded and the teams battled it out from there with Snake River eventually taking a 18-14 advantage.
Coming off of a disappointing loss at Sugar-Salem in their last outing Snake River got it going in the second quarter, especially on the defensive end where they shut down the Broncos for most of the quarter to extend the lead to 35-21 at the half.
"We know that we can shoot the ball so we came back from last week and worked hard on defense by doing a lot of individual defensive drills," coach Coombs said. "I think that most of it was mental at Sugar-Salem so we just worked on the defensive end and forgot about the offense."
Down but certainly not out, Blackfoot turned up the defensive pressure to begin the second half, going to a full court press that paid some dividends. Blackfoot was able to chip away at the lead, eventually pulling to within 6-points courtesy of a 10-2 run to open the third quarter.
Sophomore Jacoby Johnson stopped the run with a bucket plus the boo-boo to push the lead back out to 9 and from there the senior took over as Candon Watt closed out the quarter by matching Blackfoot shot-for-shot, holding the Broncos at arms length with a 48-37 advantage after three quarters of play.
"Candon is a player," coach Coombs said. "He wants the ball in situations like that and he has the green light. That's part of being a senior and a team leader and it's nice to have a couple of kids that are like that."
That 8 to 12-point bulge held throughout the bulk of the fourth quarter until Blackfoot started sending the Panthers to the charity stripe down the stretch, eventually allowing the lead to grow to 17.
"The kids played hard and I'm extremely proud of them because they didn't back down," Blackfoot coach Nate Anderson said. "They had a lot of off court things of course going on but I think that it's great that they are so supportive and close knit. Like Coach Packer has said before, teams that stick together will eventually figure it out and it's frustrating from our side because this is a team that were working together to work it out only to have the rug pulled out from under them."
Snake River will return to action on December 30 at South Fremont while Blackfoot will be off until January 5 when they host Idaho Falls.
Snake River 70, Blackfoot 53
Blackfoot (53) - Trae Pilster 9, Beau Hoskins 10, Alonzo Ramos 4, Cody Cunningham 6, Gabby Maldonado 2, Colin Rockwood 8, Sam Cannon 14 rebounds (26) Cannon 7 assists (10) Pilster 4 FT - 9/14 3-pointers 6/26 (Cannon 2, Rockwood 2, Hoskins, Cunningham) fouls - 17 fouled out - none
Snake River (70) - Jacoby Johnson 14, Keegan Keller 14, Braden Watt 5, Candon Watt 24, C.J. Toulouse 10, Tyler Roll 2, Martin Hrabik 1 rebounds (34) Johnson 13 assists (13) Keller 4 FT - 16/25 3-pointers 8/20 (Candon Watt 4, Keller 3, Toulouse) fouls - 14 fouled out - none