The Idaho Stampede played their 50th and final game of the season Saturday night at CenturyLink Arena.
Idaho won the game, a 113-91 victory over the Los Angeles D-Fenders for their third win in a row.
It capped off a season that had its share of ups and downs, the first in which Idaho became a single-affiliated team with the Portland Trail Blazers. That meant Portland took over the basketball operations of the Stampede. It also meant there was a learning curve for both organizations.
"It started off where we had a new coaching staff and Portland was new to our market, and I think it was a little bit of a rough start," Managing Investor Bill Ilett said. "That train hit us at about 100 miles an hour, and we ended up being 1-12."
The train kept a-chugging, however, and the team finished the season by winning six of its final nine games. Idaho's final record was 19-31. That's not a final record anyone in either organization had hoped for, but Bill Branch, an assistant general manager with the Trail Blazers, said Portland benefited from teaming up with Idaho.
"Look, the competitive nature in all of us wants to win every game," Branch said. "But there are times where you have to look and say, 'Where does this get us next?' "
Ilett understands Portland's main goal in being affiliated with Idaho is to develop talent. That didn't ease his pain as he saw frustrated fans leave CenturyLink Arena early in the season as a number of losses piled up.
"We need to respect what the two organizations are trying to do," Ilett said. "It's very important that Portland builds talent and brings these young players along. They also need to understand that a good hybrid wins. So if we can help other do those things, they'll go hand in hand."
With a season under his belt, first-year coach Mike Peck is excited about helping Portland and Idaho accomplish those goals.
"Absolutely," said Peck, who came to Idaho after coaching elite high school athletes in Las Vegas. "I really enjoyed the experience. I couldn't have been surrounded by better people, and I've definitely learned a lot."
Peck's assistants were Scott Williams, a former NBA player with no coaching experience, and Barry Rohrssen, a college coach with no pro experience.
"If you're an astute basketball person, and you sit here and watch our coaching staff, you can tell that they've grown dramatically," Branch said. "Those coaches have made huge strides."
Peck signed a year-to-year contract before the season, and he's hopeful that he'll get an opportunity to continue to make strides as Idaho's head coach.
GAME NOTES: Coby Karl had 15 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in what could be his final game in a Stampede uniform. Fellow Boise State product Jason Ellis had a game-high 14 rebounds. Idaho guard Reggie Hamilton went 6-for-9 from 3-point range and scored 28 points.