RIGBY — The Shelley Russets inaugural season in the 4A High Country Conference came to an end on Thursday night as the Rigby Trojans raced past the Russets for a 78-58 victory.
"We started the game well but even then you just didn't sense that spirit which is understandable because of the heartbreaker that we suffered on Tuesday," Shelley head coach Dave Hadley said. "We just didn't realize the urgency and once Rigby got a little lead they were able to get real aggressive and then you could just sense us tensing up."
Indeed the game started as well as a Russet fan could have expected as Chad Leckington opened with a nice drive to the hoop, followed by back-to-back treys by Will Higham and McKay Cannon for a quick 8-0 lead.
After a time out, Rigby responded, eventually closing the quarter with a 14-4 run and a 18-15 lead.
Trojan momentum spilled into the second quarter and when Shelley's big man in the middle, Chad Cather, picked up his third personal foul the Trojans were there to take advantage.
Dylan Jones, Rigby's all-conference forward was able to bust loose for 8 quick points, putting the Russets in a 10-point deficit. Jones was huge on the night for the Trojans, finishing with a game high 36-points.
Despite that, Shelley battled back late in the second quarter and heading into the locker room, the game was a manageable 35-31.
Early into the third quarter foul trouble reared its ugly head once again as Leckington picked up his fourth foul, just over a minute into the half. Transition defense was a trouble spot for the Russets after that as Rigby built a 14-point advantage by the end of the third quarter.
Down, but certainly not out, the Russets began chipping away at the lead, eventually closing to within 8-points with possession of the ball. After a time out, the Russets ran a play for Higham and with just over three minutes too play the lanky junior put up a three ball from the top of the circle that could have cut the lead to 5-points.
Unfortunately the ball was just off line, falling into the hands of a Rigby defender who tossed the ball up-court for a lay up and in so doing, stealing the wind from the Russet sails.
"We told the kids with about five minutes to go that if we could get 2 or 3 stops, and then convert on those that we could cut into this lead and have a chance to win it at the end," coach Hadley said. "We got the turn overs, and we got the conversions but when we missed that shot and more importantly they got that long pass for the lay up, you could just feel that last gasp from the team."
Rigby closed the game on a 17-2 run, eliminating the Russets while advancing to the state play in game on Saturday.
"I just want my seniors to know how much I love them and appreciate them," coach Hadley said. "They had to carry the candle into the 4A ranks and even though we lost the last two games, it doesn't take away form the season. I think that we earned the respect of the conference and hopefully when the hurt from this loss leaves, we can look back and see all the good that we accomplished."
SHS 15 16 14 13 - 58
RHS 18 17 22 21 - 78
Shelley - Kyle Killpack 2, Jason Christensen 10, T.J. Stommel 6, Chad Leckington 9, Chad Cather 2, Will Higham 3, Derek Wilson 2, McKay Cannon 20, Christian Mendoza 4; rebounds (15) Kyle Killpack 3, Chad Cather 3; assists (9) 3 with 2; FT - 8/10; 3pt - 8/23 Jason Christensen 2, T.J. Stommel 2, McKay Cannon 2, Chad Leckington 1, Will Higham 1; fouls - 22; fouled out - Chad Leckington, Chad Cather
Rigby - Chris Miller 2, Tate Polatis 6, Dallin Polson 2, Dylan Jones 36, Clayton Iglinski 18, Matt Fielding 14; rebounds (22) 3 with 5; assists (16) Chris Miller 6; FT - 24/27; 3pt - 6/9 Dylan Jones 3, Clayton Iglinski 3; fouls - 17; fouled out - none