SHELLEY — Joy. Sadness. Elation. Agony. Take your pick as to which adjective best describes the loser out contest at Shelley High School between the Blackfoot Broncos and the Shelley Russets on Saturday night because depending upon where you were sitting in the raucous gym, any one of those could describe what was going on by the end of Shelley's 63-59 High Country Conference tournament win over Blackfoot.
"I told them last night that win or lose they should go out with a bang because you can't turn back the clock," Blackfoot head coach Dan Hale said. "I told them to leave it on the floor and that is exactly what they did."
The Russets came out smoking hot from behind the arc as they went to a smaller lineup to start the ball game against the Broncos. That strategy paid off in spades as the Russets connected on 11 first half three point bombs, including a buzzer beater from T.J. Stommel at the end of the first quarter.
"We thought coming in that a smaller lineup might lead to some three point shots being presented to us but I thought that we got a little too comfortable shooting them, especially in the third quarter," Shelley head coach Dave Hadley said. "I normally don't like the imbalance that we saw tonight between the perimeter and the inside game but when your shooting the ball as well as we were in that first half, you have to keep taking them."
Despite the dead eye display from long range, Blackfoot was only down 8 points at the half, in large part due to the inside play of Gabby Maldonado who had 8 points in the half, and the penetrating scoring of Trae Pilster who also had 8 points in the first half of play.
"Blackfoot did an excellent job of penetrating and that will be a point of emphasis in practice for us, stopping that penetration or stepping over to take a charge," Coach Hadley said.
"I told the kids at half to look at the score," Coach Hale said. "They made 11 three's and still we were only down eight points and all of our points were in the paint and when push comes to shove the team that wins the paint will usually prevail."
That inside game proved to be the answer for the Broncos in the second half. After a pair of three balls from the Russets to open the quarter, one by Stommel and the other by Edgar Mendoza, Blackfoot turned to their front court and did they ever respond. Led by Keith Moore, who pounded home 10 of his game high 20 points in the third quarter, Blackfoot went on a 19-0 run over seven minutes of game time to take a 51-46 lead over the Russets.
"We hit a couple of shots to start the second half and then when we missed a couple I think that we got a little hesitant to pull the trigger," Coach Hadley said.
The Russets were able to right the ship midway through the fourth quarter however as they closed the fourth quarter on a 17-8 run to end the Broncos season.
"I'm happy with the way that we responded," Coach Hale said. "We just couldn't hold on down the stretch but you have to give Shelley credit, they made shots when they had to."
"We still have to learn how to value the ball a bit better," Coach Hadley said. "In a loser out game you have to be able to shoot with confidence and that is what our kids did tonight."
Shelley (19-9) will head to Hillcrest on Tuesday for a loser out contest with the Knights. Tip off is scheduled for 7 P.M.
SHELLEY 63, BLACKFOOT 59
BLACKFOOT 13 19 13 14 - 59
SHELLEY 23 17 6 17 - 63
Blackfoot (59) Tanner Norton 2, Trae Pilster 11, Colby Pearson 7, Paul Cannon 7, Keith Moore 20, Gabby Maldonado 8, Austin Campbell 4. FG: 20. FT: 15-21. 3-pointers: 4/19 (Moore 4). Fouls: 14. Fouled out: (none).
Shelley (63) Edgar Mendoza 12, T.J. Stommel 15, Chad Leckington 10, Will Higham 2, Kaden Michaelson 7, McKay Cannon 15, Christian Mendoza 2. FG: 19. FT: 10/13. 3-pointers: 15/37 (E. Mendoza 4, Stommel 5, Leckington 3, Cannon 3). Fouls: 13. Fouled out: (none).