Eagle’s Katelyn Murray couldn’t wait for the end of the question.
The Mustangs steamrolled Borah 51-15 on Friday night in a battle of the top two teams in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference, keeping alive their chase for the program’s first undefeated season.
But a larger first — a state title — remains the only goal that has Eagle’s focus.
“State,” Murray blurted out when asked to choose between an undefeated season and a state championship. “A state title all the way.”
Eagle (17-0, 12-0 5A SIC) has spent the entire season as Idaho’s No. 1-ranked team. And its dominance — the Mustangs are beating opponents by an average of 27.9 points per game — is drawing regional and national attention.
USA Today ranks Eagle the No. 3 team in its Frontier Region, which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. But those rankings don’t hold much sway over Eagle.
“It’s really cool. It’s something special to be recognized like that,” Murray said. “But we always have something greater to strive for.”
That something greater includes atoning for last season, when the Mustangs also held the favorite status most of the season. Eagle finished a program-best 25-2 and won the 5A SIC regular season and district tournament titles. But it fell short of the school’s first state title with a 40-37 loss to conference rival Centennial in the state championship game.
Eagle returns eight players from that state runner-up team, including three with a Division I future. Murray signed with Army. Senior guard/forward Janie King signed with Idaho, and junior point guard Meghan Boyd holds offers from Idaho, Utah Valley and Denver.
Boyd said the Mustangs have stewed over that championship loss all year.
“I think it gave us more motivation and more energy this year,” Boyd said. “Last year, we kind of outplayed ourselves in that championship game. This year, we’ve really got a chip on our shoulder and have really got our eye on state.”
Eagle wasted no time showing why it’s one of the best teams in the West on Friday, never trailing and invoking the running-clock mercy rule against No. 3-ranked Borah (13-3, 10-2) to start the fourth quarter.
The Mustangs’ pressure man-to-man defense forced seven first-quarter turnovers before finishing the game with 20. Murray led Eagle with 16 points and six rebounds, Betsey King added nine points and Jaimee McKinnie scored seven as the Mustangs unleashed their full 10-man rotation.
With the hype and pressure surrounding an undefeated season building, Eagle coach Cody Pickett said his team has shown no signs of noticing, let alone cracking, with four games left before the district tournament.
“They’re a different group,” Pickett said. “We’ve got three great seniors and some mature underclassmen, so hopefully they keep playing this way.”