NAMPA — After a three-year drought in which Firth head coach Scott Adams wondered if there was a semifinal jinx, the Cougars are back on top in Class 2A boys basketball.
The Firth boys program won its sixth state championship since 1999 with a 58-48 thumping of the Declo Hornets Saturday at the Idaho Center, where two weeks prior the Cougar girls won their first title since 1987.
"We wanted to do what they did, and we did," said junior Zak Johnson, who helped his teammates with a 10-2 third-quarter scoring run that ultimately doomed Declo.
Firth started the second half with the slimmest of leads, 23-22, but soon controlled the game by running plays to get open passes and sink shots. The Hornet's decision to play full-court pressure defense was apparently the wrong one, as the Courts followed up the 10-2 run with a pair of smaller runs of six and four points.
The Cougars shifted the tone of their game after becoming concerned that they had allowed Declo to narrow a 12-5 first-quarter lead to a single point by the end of the half.
"We weren't very happy about the second quarter," Adams said. "We had them on their heels and let them back in. I told the kids, 'Tell me what you want to do defensively, tell me what you want to do offensively.' I went with what they wanted and felt comfortable with."
Upon hitting the hardwood after halftime, Johnson (15 points) hit a pair of buckets and a free throw, and Connor Burkhart (16 points, 7 rebounds) nailed two shots (including a 3-pointer) to open the scoring spree, and Firth was suddenly up 33-24. Braydon Adams started the second run with a basket of his own and was accompanied by Jordan Chapman and Dallan Bingham, who each went 2-for-2 from the foul line. The four-point run was all Burkhart (2-for-2 free throws, one basket). Declo wasn't able to catch up.
"There was a little pressure," said Chapman (7 points, 4-6 free throws), "but every time a guy went to the line we'd walk up and say, 'Hey, man, no pressure. Just like practice.' We walk up and don't think about it."
Much like the Firth girls' championship, the boys' title holds special meaning for the Adams family. For head coach Scott and son Braydon, this is their first championship won together.
"We've always dreamed about this moment, and we got it," said Braydon, who is one of eight returning underclassmen. Like his father before him, who led Firth to titles from 2007-10, Braydon Adams hopes this is the first of many.
"I expect us to work hard, and I see us winning back-to-back championships," he added. "It's going to be a good team next year. We're losing two seniors, and we'll miss them. But (next season) will be fun."
Class 2A Idaho Boys High School Championship
Firth 58, Declo 48
Firth 12 11 20 15 — 58
Declo 5 17 9 17 — 48
Jason Gemar 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Chapman 1-4 4-6 7, Braydon Adams 1-5 4-4 8, Lucus Orme 2-4 3-7 8, Zak Johnson 6-11 2-4 15, Dallan Bingham 1-2 2-2 4, Connor Burkhart 5-7 5-6 16. Totals 17-34 20-29 58.
Zac Mangum 1-6 0-0 2, Hayden Hanson 1-2 0-0 2, Zay Page 5-13 2-2 16, Travis Schroeder 3-7 0-0 9, Clayton Moore 3-5 3-5 9, Stegan Garner 0-5 2-2 2, Jade Matthews 0-4 0-0 0, Kyle Heward 2-7 4-5 8. Totals 15-49 11-14 48.
3-point goals: Firth 4-14 (Chapman 1-4, Orme 1-2, Johnson 1-3, Burkhart 1-1, Gemar 0-1), Declo 7-24 (Page 4-10, Schroeder 3-6). Rebounds: Firth 28 (Burkhart 7), Declo 29 (Heward 12). Fouls: Firth 10, Declo 21. Fouled out: Declo, Hanson. Assists: Firth 16 (Chapman 7), Declo 9 (Page 3). Turnovers: Firth 9, Declo 8. Blocks: Firth 2 (Johnson, Burkhart), Declo 1 (Hanson). Steals: Firth 5 (Adams 2), Declo 4 (Mangum 2, Heward 2).