THOMAS - The Snake River Panthers bid a fond farewell to seven graduating seniors Friday night as they welcomed the American Falls Beavers to town. In a game that was not at close as the final score, the Panthers dominated the contest in every aspect on their way to a 59-39 final.
"This is a great group of kids," said Coach Robert Coombs. "They have played hard all year and they practice hard as well. I think that they try as hard as any group we have ever had here at Snake River."
The opening quarter began with American Falls hitting the first bucket of the night, but the lead would be short lived as senior Candon Watt hit a pair of free throws and a long distance three to help the Panthers gain the lead at the end of the first stanza 9-8.
"We began the night a bit tentative, but we were all excited and confident at what the outcome would be," said Candon Watt. "When you have a good post player like Jacoby in the middle, a big target like he is, it really sets this team up offensively."
Getting into a good offensive rhythm in the second quarter the Panthers quickly extended their lead to double digits, with Jacoby Johnson doing the most damage with seven of his game high 17 points.
Seven of the nine Panthers to suit up Friday night scored in the period as Coombs substituted liberally, getting everyone on the bench involved in the game.
"We were able to get everyone in the game tonight for substantial minutes," said Coach Coombs. "The ability to do that is a result of the hard work these kids put in on a daily basis."
By the half time intermission, the Panthers had extended the lead to 13 at 31-18 and the contest was never in doubt.
"We came out in the in third quarter and worked a bit on our press defense, and that forced some turnovers which led to easy baskets," said Coach Coombs. "It was important to the kids to get everyone in the scoring column and they did that as well."
Pounding the ball down inside to Jacoby Johnson and getting some mid range jumpers going from Keegan Keller, the Panthers outscored the Beavers 15-13 in the period and even though the Beavers were able to keep the game fairly close score wise, the contest was all but over with eight minutes to go.
"We did what we needed to do tonight," said C.J. Toulouse. "We got the win and gave ourselves a chance at the top seed in our district."
The final stanza was more of the same for the Panthers as they shared the ball and kept everyone in the game. A pair of long three pointers from Keegan Keller and Candon Watt and a pair of buckets inside by Johnson kept the Beavers at arm's length and the Panthers closed out the game winning by a comfortable margin at 59-39.
"Johnson is so very athletic, he presents problems for a lot of teams that we play," said Coach Coombs. "He really helps to complete our team and we are really coming together right now which sets us up for district in a good way."
With the win, Snake River moves to 14-3 on the season, 4-1 in district play with an all important game next Friday night at Bear Lake.
AFHS 8 10 12 9 39
SRHS 9 22 15 13 59
American Falls (39) Ross Palmer 7, Ryan Wright 4, Justin Kress 3, Josh Wageman 5, Mason Shipp 8, Alx Mancilla 7, Anthony Lasley 5 rebounds (16) Wageman 6 assists (6) Palmer 4 FT 5/10 3 pt FG 4/10 Wageman 2, Kress, Shipp total fouls (10) fouled out - none
Snake River (59) Jacoby Johnson 17, Keegan Keller 11, Braden Watt 3, Cole Rushton 4, Candon Watt 15, C. J. Toulouse 2, Tyler Roll 3, Derik Williams 2, Martin Hrabik 2 rebounds (29) Toulouse 9 assists (14) C. Watt 4 FT 6/10 3 pt FG 5/13 C. Watt 3, Keller, B. Watt total fouls (15) fouled out - none