AMMON — All season long the Blackfoot Broncos have shown the ability to pull themselves up by the boot straps for thrilling come from behind finishes.
Tuesday nights opening round district tournament game was not one of those instances however as the Broncos fell behind early, and never threatened as the home standing Hillcrest Knights sent Blackfoot to the left side of the tournament bracket with a 79-58 victory.
"A lot of this game is mental preparation and you could just tell, right from the warm ups that we just didn't have that sharpness or excitement," Blackfoot head coach Dan Hale said. "It's disappointing because the two things that carried us all year was our defense and rebounding and tonight, we just didn't do either one of those things well."
Hillcrest sprinted to an 11-2 lead to begin the game as turnovers and missed shots plagued the Blackfoot offense. Blackfoot was able to steady the ship over the final three minutes of play however and after a Keith Moore three ball from the wing, Blackfoot was still in the ball game at 15-7 after the opening stanza.
"As bad as that first quarter was we were still only down 8 and I told the kids that in between quarter," Coach Hale said. "We just never were able to get it going though."
The Knight lead ballooned to 16 points midway through the second quarter when coach Hale inserted Jaron Katseanes and Tanner Norton into the ball game. The duo provided a spark for the Broncos with each of them hitting big shots late in the half to help keep the game in shouting distance as the two teams headed to the locker room for the half with the Knights leading 35-23.
"Tanner and Jaron did a good job coming into the game," Coach Hale said. "They gave us a lift but we just couldn't make stops on the defensive end. I know we know how to close out but tonight we just ran at them and then they drove right by us."
Hillcrest placed a pair of Knights into the scoring column with 20+ points as the Knights outscored Blackfoot in every quarter.
Blackfoot had a trio of players in double digit scoring with Keith Moore leading the way with 15 points, followed by Trae Pilster and Paul Cannon with 12 and 11 respectfully.
"The sun will come up tomorrow," Coach Hale said. "All we can do now is go back, reemphasize what we need to do to be successful and get ready for Saturday."
Blackfoot (8-13) will play in a loser out contest on Saturday at 7 P.M. at an opponent yet to be determined.
HILLCREST 79, BLACKFOOT 58
BLACKFOOT 7 16 17 18 - 58
HILLCREST 15 20 24 20 - 79
Blackfoot (58) - Tanner Norton 2, Trae Pilster 12, Colby Pearson 7, Paul Cannon 11, Jaron Katseanes 6, Keith Moore 15, Gabby Maldonado 2, Jaxson Archibald 3. FG: 17. FT: 21/30. 3-pointers (Pearson, Moore 2). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: (Cannon).
Hillcrest (79) - Jaden Hunsaker 4, Tyson McDonald 8, Kaden Miller 7, Taylor Brooks 20, Blake Phippen 12, Tanner Austin 22, Tyler Patterson 1, Scott Baldwin 5. FG: 30. FT: 14/21. 3-pointers (Miller 2, Phippen, Austin, Baldwin) Fouls: 24. Fouled out: (none).