MIDDLETON Celeste Pantoja knew her team needed a boost heading into the fourth quarter, so she did what any smart point guard would do: Surveyed the Nampa defense and made the Bulldogs pay.
With defenders zeroed in on standouts Maya Ah You and DRae Tullock, Pantoja found herself open enough to hit a jumper, and then another and then another.
The seniors savvy play down the stretch helped the Middleton girls basketball team defeat Nampa 39-25 in the semifinals of the 4A District Three Tournament on Tuesday night.
The victory puts Middleton (22-0) in the district title game, and gives the Vikings an opportunity to pursue a fourth consecutive state championship.
Since they werent respecting my shot, I decided to go in and take some shots to make them come out on me, Pantoja said. Eventually when they did that, it pulled them out and I got Maya open on the easy dish. Thats just my type of game.
Pantoja finished with 10 points including six in the fourth quarter as Middleton won its 71st game in a row. Ah You dropped in a game-high 15 points with eight rebounds and three assists, and Tullock fell one rebound short of a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Middleton plays Bishop Kelly (16-6) for the district championship at 8 p.m. Friday at Bishop Kelly. The winner earns the leagues No. 1 seed at state and the loser will go as the No. 2.
We are looking forward to the next game and were not trying to look toward state yet, Pantoja said. We are just trying to focus day by day and go in as if its just another game.
While the Vikings made the victory look easy in the fourth quarter, they had trouble shaking the Bulldogs through three quarters. Middleton led 23-19 at the half and was held to four points in the third quarter before the Vikings found their rhythm on defense, quieting Nampa post Danielle Jardine. The sophomore led Nampa with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Physically we are ready. Mentally, weve just got to be sure we are ready to handle the pressure of the winning streak, and having a target on our back and the expectations, Middleton coach Andy Jones said.
BISHOP KELLY 51, SKYVIEW 33
Eight players scored for the Knights on their way to a win over the Hawks (16-6) in the 4A District Three semifinals at Bishop Kelly.
Mikaela Murgoitio paced Bishop Kelly with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Raquelle Mouw and Kindall Murie had eight points apiece.
Bishop Kelly benefited from 26 Skyview turnovers and advanced to state for the fourth year in a row.