NAMPA - Overcome with emotion, Salmon River coach Charlie Shepherd Sr. forgot the names of several players and his assistant coach.
The crowd laughed, and Shepherd laughed, too. Talk about being left speechless.
Shepherd's Savages (25-1) wrapped up a "magical" weekend with a 66-51 victory over defending champion Nezperce (17-6) on Saturday morning at the Idaho Center to win the first 1A Division II state championship in program history.
In November, the same group of athletes won the state title in eight-man football.
"We've had some great athletes. We've had some great individual ball players," Shepherd Sr. said. "But their record speaks for itself. There's no way anybody can argue the fact that this is probably the best group in Salmon River history."
Two underclassmen led the way for the Savages.
Junior standout Leighton Vander Esch dropped in his third double-double of the tournament with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jimmy Shepherd matched Vander Esch in scoring, and also established a 1A Division II tournament record with six 3-pointers in the championship game. Shepherd's 11 3s in three games matched the record set by Richfield's Tel Clark in 2009.
"I didn't want anybody coming out and playing timid. I wanted them to take the initiative, do what we've been doing all year," Shepherd Sr. said. "If you come out here and play this game back on your heels, it's not going to go well for you. He had the green light to pull the trigger all he wanted."
Shepherd followed his dad's orders, sinking a 3-pointer for the first score of the game.
"Jimmy's fun to play with. He's a little ball of fire," Vander Esch said. "Last year I remember he was pretty bummed when we lost in the first round. This year you could tell he wanted it bad, and I wanted nothing more than to give all my teammates a championship."
Shepherd Sr. gave the MVP nod to Vander Esch in his championship speech. The 6-foot-4 junior forward had 61 points and 45 rebounds in the tournament.
"I guess it's cliché, but it's been magical," Shepherd Sr. said. " It still hasn't sunk in to me because I thought that realistically to win both championships the same year was just a pipe dream."
The magic may not be over yet. The Savages will only graduate two seniors from their football and basketball teams this spring - Charlie Shepherd Jr. and Caleb Hackler.
"We realized one thing really throughout this tournament. The way that we were playing, nobody could beat us except for ourselves," Hackler said. "If we play our best game, nobody can contend with us, and I think we proved that."
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX