After a nail-biting overtime 55-52 loss against Filer in the quarterfinal round of the state girls basketball tournament, Teton earned a berth in Saturday’s consolation final against foe Sugar-Salem with a strong second half against the Fruitland Grizzlies on Feb. 21.
On Thursday against Filer, Teton scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but it wasn’t enough in the 3A opener.
Waklee Kunz led Teton with 22 points and Cambrie Streit added 14 points and eight rebounds, but Filer had more scoring balance with three players in double figures and a fourth with nine points.
On Friday against Fruitland, Streit led three players in double figures with 21 points and finished five of five on 3-pointers. Annalea Brown scored 15 points and added six rebounds for Teton.
In an all eastern Idaho 3A state consolation final, Sugar-Salem prevailed for a 68-39 win over Teton in the fifth meeting between the teams this season.
The reactions from the Diggers upon receiving the 3A consolation trophy Saturday morning, however, were abbreviated. While the trophy concluded a 23-2 season, Sugar-Salem head coach Crystal Dayley said it was not the trophy the Diggers wanted this weekend.
“We came here with one goal,” said Dayley, a Sugar-Salem alumnus. “They wanted the blue trophy. It’s just unfortunate after all the hard work they’ve put in this season. I still think we’re one of the best teams in Idaho.”
The Diggers entered the state tournament as two-time defending 3A state champions and the No. 1 ranked team in the 3A state media poll, but due to Idaho’s predetermined brackets, they were on the same side of the bracket as No. 2 ranked Parma and No. 3 ranked Timberlake. Sugar-Salem and Timberlake faced each other in Thursday’s first round and the Diggers fell 45-40 in double overtime. The loss put them in the consolation bracket for the first time since 2014, when the then No. 1 ranked Diggers fell 30-28 to No. 2 ranked Filer in the first round. Filer went on to win the state title 44-36 over Timberlake.
“Us and Timberlake have won the last five state titles,” Dayley said. “There’s a lot of games I’ll remember in my career. I don’t think I’ll forget (the Timberlake game) for a long time...to lose in double overtime and there was such a controversial call at the end.”
Teton head coach Shon Kunz shared Dayley’s observations. His team experienced a similar situation in 2016, when then No. 3 ranked Teton lost 75-64 to No. 2 ranked Timberlake in the semifinals. Timberlake went on to win the state title 62-35 over Marsh Valley.
“It’s time things change,” Kunz said. “I think the massive movement (from Idaho coaches) is there, but (the Idaho High School Activities Association) is not listening. You shouldn’t see the state championship game in the first round.”
Saturday ended accomplished careers for the seniors of both programs. Coach Kunz said Teton’s five seniors were great to work with and leave big shoes to fill. This weekend was Teton’s third postseason appearance in four years.
“They’re great kids,” he said. “They’ve probably played more varsity minutes than anyone else in the state of Idaho. It will be tough to replace them, but we’re gonna rebuild and go forward. We’ve still got a lot of great kids coming up.”
The Teton boys basketball team beat South Fremont 71-69 in the district tournament elimination game on Feb. 21. They fell to Sugar-Salem on Feb. 24 and will have a play-in game against Marsh Valley on Thursday for the state tournament, which starts on March 5.