MERIDIAN — Free throw shooting in overtime decided Sugar-Salem's Class 3A state consolation title opponent: District 6 rival Shelley.
The Russets fought back from an 11-point deficit to claim a 55-51 overtime victory over Snake River on Friday. The elimination game sent Shelley to the consolation final and 2013 state champion Panthers home for the season.
"We've been a pretty good free-throw shooting team all year," Shelley head coach Dave Hadley said. "This is the third time we've played Snake River, and it was a two-point game and a three-point game ... now an overtime game. We knew coming in that it was going to be a dog fight."
Shelley forward Dalton Nelson and guard Carter Cannon visited the foul line and delivered for their team, scoring five of the Russets' final seven points on free throws.
Cannon drove inside for a go-ahead basket to put Shelley up 50-48 with two minutes remaining in overtime, and from there Shelley and Snake River exchanged fouls and trips to the line. Each time that Nelson and Carter visited the free-throw line, Shelley led by a mere point. Nelson hit 3 of 4, while Cannon, who appeared nonchalant about the situation after the game, sank both attempts.
"You have to focus on the free throw," Cannon said. "I tried to block out the noise, and I was able to."
Snake River's Kade and Curtis Keller combined to make 3 of 4 attempts from the line, but the Russets drew just one more call than the Panthers.
"Free throws," Snake River head coach Robert Coombs said, declaring the game's deciding factor. "Our kids played hard, played intense, and put us at a chance to win it. It's all we can ask for. We lost it at the foul line at the end of the game."
The Russets trailed early in the game but closed the double-digit gap without a major run rather a slow burn of an extra basket here and there. In fact, Shelley never led during regulation. The first tie came when guard Tyler Fredrickson hit a 3-pointer with 3:30 remaining in the fourth. Snake River went ahead by four points, only to allow Shelley another opportunity to tie. Finally, Russets guard Blaine Rumsey's lay up with 14 seconds remaining in regulation forced the game into an extra period.
"They started knocking down their shots, and we weren't," said Snake River guard Trey Albertson. "It was a physical game. They've played like that all year, and nothing changed. We played our hearts out, and we have nothing to be ashamed of."
Sugar-Salem faced Shelley four times this season, and both teams have won a pair. However, the Diggers final victory over the Russets was for the District 6 championship. Today's rematch is set for 9:15 a.m. and is for the state consolation trophy.
Class 3A Idaho Boys High School Basketball Championship
Shelley 55, Snake River 51, OT
Shelley 6 18 13 11 7 — 55
Snake River 15 14 9 10 3 — 51
Tyler Fredrickson 3-13 0-0 9, Keifer Higham 1-5 0-0 2, Bracken Nelson 3-6 0-0 6, Blaine Rumsey 3-8 2-4 8, Marcos Vega 0-2 0-0 0, Dalton Nelson 2-3 5-7 9, Taylor Lund 1-2 2-4 4, Carter Cannon 4-6 8-9 17. Totals: 17-45 17-24 55.
SNAKE RIVER (51)
Klay Keller 1-2 0-0 3, Tyler Coombs 1-3 0-0 2, Kade Keller 0-4 6-10 6, Kade Harral 5-9 1-3 13, Jaden Poulter 1-4 0-0 3, Trey Albertson 6-13 0-0 13, Brad Coombs 1-5 2-3 4, Curtis Keller 2-4 3-5 7. Totals: 17-44 12-21 51.
3-point goals: Shelley 4-17 (Fredrickson 3-10, Cannon 1-2, Higham 0-1, B. Nelson 0-2, Rumsey 0-1, Vega 0-1), Snake River 5-19 (Harral 2-5, Klay Keller 1-2, Poulter 1-3, Albertson 1-7, B. Coombs 0-2). Rebounds: Shelley 39 (Higham 7, Cannon 7), Snake River 26 (C. Keller 8). Fouls: Shelley 21, Snake River 22. Fouled out: Shelley, B. Nelson; Snake River, Kade Keller. Assists: Shelley 5 (Fredrickson 2), Snake River 12 (B. Coombs 5). Turnovers: Shelley 17, Snake River 13. Blocks: Shelley 2 (D. Nelson, Lund), Snake River 3 (C. Keller 2). Steals: Shelley 5 (Rumsey 3), Snake River 5 (Klay Keller, Kade Keller, Poulter, B. Coombs, Kayl Williams).