MIDDLETON — Its been a long time since the Nampa High boys basketball team owned the top spot in the 4A Southern Idaho Conference standings.
So long, in fact, that longtime Nampa Athletic Director John Gregory couldnt recall with any certainty the last time it happened.
After Friday night, that statistic doesnt matter anyway.
The Bulldogs survived their biggest test of the season so far, knocking off Middleton 57-51 to take over the conference lead with a 7-0 record.
It was intense. It was crazy. Im just glad we got the win at their house, Nampa junior guard JD Schutt said. It was really great. Im happy.
Nampa fell behind 49-48 on a turnaround jumper off the low block from Middleton senior post Keith Myers. The Middleton crowd went wild, and Nampa coach Tim Dranginis called a timeout to be certain his young squad didnt let the emotion of the game take over.
What I was worried about coming into the game is, are we going to be too nervous to play and kind of fumble the ball and just think too much? said Dranginis, who starts two sophomores, two juniors and a senior. It was a good character builder for us. They didnt crack.
The Bulldogs (9-2 overall) returned from the timeout, and junior forward Blaine Roberts didnt hesitate when he got an open look at the basket, sinking a 3-pointer for a 51-49 lead with 2:40 left.
Middleton managed just a pair of free throws the rest of the way, and Roberts and Schutt each converted one-and-one opportunities in the final minute.
Schutt finished with a game-high 25 points, going 6-for-10 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. Roberts added 12 points and six rebounds, and senior Tyler Hamlin scored nine off the bench.
I was proud of our kids that we got in a situation like this and we kept battling and recovered, Dranginis said.
The loss Friday was the first for the Vikings (8-4, 7-1) against a 4A opponent, and only the second on their home court. Myers paced Middleton with 21 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, and senior guard Keshawn Liggins had 16 points and six boards.
This is great, Schutt said. I am so happy right now, you dont even know.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422, Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX