NAMPA – The game could have been played on any given night in Bingham County but on Saturday afternoon it was the state’s biggest stage as the Snake River Panthers and the Shelley Russets squared off on the Idaho Center hardwood with each looking to bring home the coveted 3A state boys basketball championship.
It took five quarters of basketball but in the end it was Snake River who finally stood at center court to hoist the blue trophy after their 67-65 overtime thriller.
“Shelley is a fine basketball team. We were ahead of them both times earlier this season and they were able to come back and beat us,” Snake River head coach Robert Coombs said. “We just knew that we wanted it to be close coming down to the end of the game to give us a chance and today, it could have gone either way.”
Indeed it could have gone either way as both teams had a shot to win the ball game in regulation. Snake River had the first shot as they had the ball on the side with :11 remaining and the score tied at 57-57. The inbounds pass went awry however giving the ball to Shelley for their chance at winning the ball game. On the ensuing play McKay Cannon drove to the left of the key and rose for the potential game winner, the shot caromed off the right side of the iron however and as the capacity crowd cheered, the game went to overtime.
“It was a good battle. Both teams took advantage of some situations and both teams squandered some opportunities both in regulation and in overtime but I thought that both teams played hard and I’m really proud of my kids,” Shelley head coach Dave Hadley said. “They battled and that’s really all that you can ask for. Our motto this year was it only takes one and unfortunately we came up one short but you know in life sometimes that is going to happen. It doesn’t mean that you have to feel bad about the season because we had a great year. These are great kids and they gave it everything that they had. It’s disappointing but we lost to a good, well coached basketball team and you can’t be sad about that.”
In the overtime both teams stood toe-to-toe as they traded big shot for big shot. Jacoby Johnson put the Panthers in front on their first offensive possession with a hoop and the foul for a three point advantage.
Back came Shelley with a pair of free throws by Dalton Nelson. After a Brad Coombs basket the McKay Cannon then tied the game at 62-62 with a trey with 1:25 remaining.
On the ensuing offensive possession for Snake River once again it was Johnson who sliced through the Shelley defense, earning the bucket and the boo boo and after the charity toss, Snake River held a three point advantage at 65-62 with :56 remaining.
Shelley was not done just yet however as Chad Leckington dialed long distance for the Russets one more time to retie the game at 65-65.
Snake River then worked the clock and with 0:06 remaining Johnson was fouled on his way to the basket and the senior was clutch as he drilled both free throws to give the Panthers the lead back at 67-65.
“The only thing going through my mind was that I needed to get up because if we would have lost again I would have never heard the end of it,” Jacoby Johnson said. “I’m just proud of my team mates. They stepped up and played so well. It’s been a long ride and we finally got it.”
Shelley had one more chance to either tie or win the game but a McKay Cannon shot came up just short as Snake River celebrated its 3A state championship.
“Our seniors had something to prove this year. Last year we played in the state title game and we came out scared and didn’t play real hard. This year we knew what to expect,” coach Coombs said. “Their sophomore year they took third. Their junior year they took second and at the start of the year this year they promised me a blue trophy and that’s just what they did. They fulfilled their promise and followed through on it.”
SNAKE RIVER 67, SHELLEY 65
Shelley 15 16 14 12 8 – 65
Snake River 11 16 17 13 10 – 67
Shelley (65) – Tyler Fredrickson 7, Kaden Schmitt 2, Chad Leckington 23, Carter Cannon 5, Dalton Nelston 7, McKay Cannon 21. FG: 20. FT: 15-20. 3-pointers: 10-31 (Tyler Fredrickson 2, Chad Leckington 4, Carter Cannon 1, McKay Cannon 3). Rebounds: 27 (Chad Leckington 5). Assists: 10 (McKay Cannon 7). Fouls: 16. Fouled out: (Dalton Nelson).
Snake River (67) – Adrian Castaneda 9, Jacoby Johnson 18, Kade Harral 4, Cole Rushton 2, Brad Coombs 5, Mason Watt 7, Curtis Keller 12, Wyatt Wray 10. FG: 24. FT: 14-16. 3-pointers: 5-16 (Adrian Castaneda 3, Brad Coombs 1, Mason Watt 1). Rebounds: 41 (Jacoby Johnson 7, Brad Coombs 7, Curtis Keller 7). Assists: 15 (Wyatt Wray 7). Fouls: 17. Fouled out: none.