MERIDIAN – The Snake River Panthers opened a double-digit lead and then held off a hard charging Kimberly squad for an opening round, 55-52 win at the State Basketball Championships in Meridian on Thursday afternoon.
“I thought that the rebounds and the fast break early in the game got us off to a good start,” Snake River head coach Bob Coombs said. “Overall we did some nice things in tonight’s ball game.”
The Panthers came out of the gates with a high energy performance, collecting 21 rebounds in the first half, 9 of those on the offensive end as the Panthers built a 11-point bulge.
Jacoby Johnson and C.J. Toulouse were huge in the half with 9 of the rebounds between them. Johnson also added 9-points in the half while Keegan Keller continued his good play at the point guard position with 8-points and 2 assists.
“In the first half I just came to play and didn’t think about to many things and just stepped up and played,” Johnson said. “I think that we are pumped about winning and going to the next game and hey, first time at state and get a win, it feels great.”
After the break, Kimberly came out looking for the comeback, opening the half with a 7-0 run to close the score to 26-24, forcing a time out by the Panthers.
Out of the time out, Keller stemmed the tide with a driving basket in the lane while Candon Watt buried a pair of treys in the quarter and heading into the fourth quarter, Snake River led 36-30.
“Candon got us here and I just told him to keep shooting the ball,” coach Coombs said. “I thought that all of our kids were a little bit tight shooting the ball. Tomorrow we will have to shoot the ball a little bit better.”
Watt notched his third triple to open the fourth quarter and after a defensive stop, Keller found a streaking Johnson for one of his six assists, pushing the lead back out to 11-points at 41-30.
“I thought that we gave our all and we had a shot to win the game at the end of the game which is right were you want to be,” coach Coombs said. “Candon hit some big foul shots for us at the end which was key.”
The Bulldogs were far from done however as they chipped away at the Panther lead, eventually closing to within 2-points with: 28 remaining.
Toulouse then made 1 of 2 from the charity stripe and then the Panthers turned in a pair of defensive stops, forcing a pair of off balanced treys.
With the win, Snake River (18-5) advances to tonight’s semi-final game with tip off scheduled for 6:15 at Meridian High School.
KHS 7 10 13 22 – 52
SRHS 11 15 10 19 – 55
Kimberly – Gage Huft 3, Seth Champlin 2, Dalton Harmon 2, Derek Maloney 6, Brian Crane 10, Tevan Brady 8, Jade Wadsworth 21; rebounds (44) Jade Wadsworth 12; assists (10) Derek Maloney 5; FT – 10/12; 3pt – 4/20 Brian Crane 2, Gage Huft 1, Derek Maloney 1; fouls – 25, fouled out – none
Snake River – Jacoby Johnson 13, Keegan Keller 14, Cole Rushton 4, Candon Watt 16, C.J. Toulouse 4, Derik Williams 2, Martin Hrabik 2; rebounds (34) C.J. Toulouse 8; assists (9) Keegan Keller 6; FT – 15/27; 3pt – 4/10 Candon Watt 3, Keegan Keller 1; fouls – 13; fouled out - none