ST. ANTHONY — For the eighth time in nine seasons and the seventh time in a row, the Firth Cougars cut down the nets on a 2A Nuclear Conference Tournament Championship as they demolished runner up Salmon 70-41 on Wednesday night to claim the blue trophy and the automatic state tournament bid.
"I think that the biggest pressure that you face is in the district tournament," Coach Adams said. "Then you go to state and it's like you know what whatever happens happens. It's anybody's game and what you did at districts doesn't matter. It's who's playing the best and who wants it more. We are going to go over there and do the best that we can and try to bring home another trophy."
The Cougars came out firing right from the opening tip as Jordan Chapman and Braydon Adams each connected on three point bombs. Salmon answered with a pair of their own however and after one quarter of play, the Savages led 13-9.
That lead was short lived however as Firth took advantage of a packed in Salmon zone by making a perfect four of four three point baskets in a 23-6 second quarter.
"Even in man Salmon packed it in to try and stop our dribble penetration and we knew that coming in so we knew that we would have to knock down shots," Coach Adams said. "There are certain things that you have to do in breaking a zone and one of them is knocking down shots and Braydon, Jordan and Kent did just that."
That offensive eruption led to a commanding 32-19 lead as the Cougars sprinted to the locker room before a wildly cheering crowd.
"I didn't treat halftime any differently than if we were losing," Coach Adams said. "We covered the things that we hadn't done real well and then went over the things that we did. We then said that nobody had given us the trophy yet so we need to go out and win it. The kids did a good job, I'm proud of them."
Salmon made a push in the third quarter as they looked to upset the top seeded Cougars, eventually pulling to within nine points at 39-30 with just over a minute remaining in the frame.
Jordan Chapman hit a trey then a driving lay up to stem the tide and then as the buzzer sounded on the third quarter of play, Mitch Orme inbounded a perfect lob pass to Dallan Bingham and the sophomore then beat the buzzer with a lay up for the 46-30 lead heading to the final stanza.
Fourth quarter action as Mitch Orme time as the shimmering pink fingered senior put on a clinic with his slashing drives through the Savage defense. Orme lit up Salmon for 13 of his game high 24 points in the final quarter as Firth pulled away for the lopsided victory.
Firth will open their state tournament next Thursday evening at 8 p.m. at Capital High School against a foe yet to be determined.
"Cole Valley got beat so they will probably be the team that we will match up with," Coach Adams said. "A great way to start off the state tournament. Go up against the team that was ranked number one all year."
FIRTH 70, SALMON 41
Salmon (41) - Derek Smith 13, Jeff Bennett 1, Jedd Tibbitts 13, Jayden Infanger 14. FG: 10. FT: 12-18. 3-pointers: 4-20 (Jayden Infanger 2, Jedd Tiggitts 2). Fouls: 17. Fouled out: none.
Firth (70) - Braden Boyer 4, Jordan Chapman 11, Luis Avila 1, Kent Jolley 8, Braydon Adams 8, Lucas Orme 2, Quinn Alvey 2, Dallan Bingham 8, Mitch Orme 24, Conner Burkhart 2. FG: 25. FT: 13-17. 3-pointers: 7-15 (Jordan Chapman 2, Kent Jolley 2, Braydon Adams 2, Mitch Orme 1). Fouls: 17. Fouled out: none.