NAMPA Behind the unbeaten and three-time defending state champion Middleton girls basketball team, the race to the finish of the 4A Southern Idaho Conferences regular season was quite the scramble.
But Bishop Kelly made the best of a tough situation, wrangling away the second seed with a 43-33 road win over Nampa on Tuesday night.
The victory assured that Bishop Kelly (14-6, 12-4) will have homecourt advantage throughout the 4A District Three Tournament, which begins Saturday when the top four seeds host first-round games. The championship game will be played at Bishop Kelly.
I dont think we shot lights out or anything like that, but I thought we had pretty good energy and we mixed it up well, Bishop Kelly coach Derek McCormick said. For us to get second when everybody picked us to finish fourth at the beginning of the year, thats an accomplishment for us and were going to try to ride that momentum into districts.
Nampa (12-8, 10-6) went into Tuesdays game aiming to force a three-way tie for second with a victory, but ended up dropping all the way down to the No. 5 seed with the loss. Skyview (15-5, 11-5) landed the No. 3 spot and Kuna (11-9, 10-6) will be No. 4.
This is my ninth year in this conference and Ive never seen this many teams have an actual shot at going to state and making a good run, Nampa coach Cam Long said. Its exciting basketball. Obviously wed rather be one of the top teams going in, but last time we made it (to state) we went in as a fifth seed as well.
Nampa most recently qualified for the state tournament in 2009, while Bishop Kelly is hoping to make its fourth straight appearance. Only the top three teams in the district tournament advance to state, which runs Feb. 14-16 at Mountain View High in Meridian.
Tuesdays game could serve as a preview to a competitive district tournament.
Nampa scored the first basket of the game, but Bishop Kelly took the lead with about 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter and never trailed again.
The Bulldogs got as close as 34-31 in the fourth quarter before the Knights outscored Nampa 9-2 over the final three minutes of the game to secure the victory.
We didnt give up even though they kept creeping back and creeping back, said BK senior Kindall Murie, who had 10 points and five assists. At the end, we made our free throws, which was really good.
NOTE: Bishop Kelly announced the hiring of two new varsity coaches on Tuesday. Jeff Carpenter will take over the track and field program, while McCormick was handed the reigns of the girls golf team.