An undefeated season remains one of the toughest goals in sports.
Too much can go wrong in any given game. An off shooting night, foul trouble or unlucky bounces can derail even the most dominant team.
The Eagle High girls basketball team pulled out late-game victories in the first two rounds of the 5A state tournament. But the Mustangs (26-1) ran out of magic Saturday, falling 62-53 to Post Falls in the title game at the Ford Idaho Center.
“To go undefeated is really, really hard,” Eagle coach Cody Pickett said. “Obviously if you could shuffle it around, you’d have lost one along the way and won tonight. But you can’t pick how you win games.”
The loss ended the bid for Idaho’s first undefeated 5A girls basketball team since Coeur d’Alene went 25-0 in 2009 and 1995. No 5A Treasure Valley team has finished the season undefeated since Meridian won its fourth straight title and 80th consecutive game in 1983 under Emery Roy.
Post Falls derailed Eagle’s history-making season by dominating the boards Saturday night. The Trojans (24-2) outrebounded Eagle 39-21, including 13-3 on the offensive end.
The lack of extra possessions and Post Falls’ 8-for-9 performance from the free-throw line staved off any Mustang comeback. Eagle cut the lead to five when Janie King hit a corner 3-pointer with 1:03 left, but the Mustangs couldn’t get any closer and finished as the state runners-up for the second year in a row.
Eagle entered the tournament as Idaho’s wire-to-wire No. 1-ranked team and ranked No. 25 in the nation by USA Today.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win like we wanted to,” Pickett said. “But there’s nothing to hang our heads about. We had a great season.”
Sophomore guard Tyler McCliment-Call led the Trojans with 21 points and seven rebounds, topping 20 points for the third straight game and finishing the tournament averaging 22.3 points per game. Senior forward Melody Kempton, who has signed with Gonzaga, added 13 points, nine rebounds and three assists as Post Falls avenged a loss to Eagle in last year’s semifinals with the fifth title in program history.
“We always had Eagle in the backs of our mind,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said. “It was never our focus. We were more worried about ourselves, but that was a big testament to the girls being focused. They had that goal at the end of the year to get it done, and they did it.”
Eagle’s three seniors leave the program with a 90-17 record and three state tournament trophies. King racked up 18 points in her final game before heading to Idaho, Army signee Katelyn Murray added five points and four rebounds, and Northwest Nazarene signee McKenna Emerson finished with six points and five steals.
“We’re going to miss them like crazy,” Pickett said. “But they helped establish the program. Three out of four years, we got trophies. Obviously, we didn’t get the blue one like we wanted and what we strive for. … But that being said, I’m still proud of them.”
MTN. VIEW FINISHES THIRD: Three Mavericks finished in double figures as Mountain View earned its fifth straight trophy from the state tournament with a 52-49 win over Borah in the third-place game.
Laila Saenz scored 16 points, Alison Chanhthala 15 and Darian White 13 for Mountain View (19-8). Nyalam Thabach led Borah (19-10) with 17 point and 11 rebounds.
BURLEY MOUNTS EPIC RALLY: The Bobcats (20-7) didn’t score a point in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 12 in the second. But unranked Burley mounted a furious comeback to knock off Century 36-31 for its second state title in program history.
Jemilynn Mahoney scored 11 points to lead Burley, Sydney Pilling added 10 and Hallie Cook finished with seven points and nine rebounds.
MIDDLETON TAKES THIRD: Zoey Moore scored 12 points and Lexi Mitchell added 10 as Middleton (20-7) beat Bishop Kelly 41-35 in the third-place game.
Gabby Keefe racked up a game-high 18 points for Bishop Kelly (20-7), which played without reigning 4A All-Idaho Player of the Year Lydia Nieto for the second straight game due to an ankle injury.
SUGAR-SALEM BREAKS THROUGH: The Diggers (25-2) improved upon last year’s runner-up finish with a 42-39 win over Snake River for the sixth state title in program history. Savanah Crane had a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Macie Knapp added 13 points for Sugar-Salem.
PARMA NABS TROPHY: The Panthers (22-4) held Buhl to 13 percent shooting in a 34-25 victory in the consolation final. Junior Madison Jackson led Parma with 20 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
SODA SPRINGS CROWNED AGAIN: The Cardinals (26-1) beat defending champ Ririe 56-46 to cap its 26-game winning streak and win its second title in four years. Sadie Gronning scored a game-high 21 points and added six rebounds and three steals, and Jorianne Balls finished with 13 points for Soda Springs.
MELBA FINISHES THIRD: The Mustangs (24-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season to rout WIC rival Cole Valley Christian 55-29 in the third-place game. Weber State signee Kori Pentzer led Melba with 28 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
CLASS 1A DIVISION I
WHITEPINE’S STREAK ENDS: Oakley (25-1) became the first team from outside North Idaho’s Whitepine League to win a 1A Division I state title since the classification was created in 2008-09 with a 33-31 upset of Prairie. Rachael Mitton led the Hornets with 12 points and six rebounds, and Brittany Hardy added eight points and three steals.
LIBERTY GETS REVENGE: Liberty Charter (19-8) avenged a district championship game loss to Rimrock with a 51-34 victory in the consolation final. Madison Hodnett led the Patriots with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
CLASS 1A DIVISION II
BUTTE COUNTY REPEATS: The Pirates (23-3) won their second straight state title with a 43-41 victory over Genesis Prep. Shayleece Lambson led Butte County with 22 points while Genesis Prep junior Bella Murekatete finished with 25 points, 30 rebounds and seven blocks. The 6-4 Murekatete set a 1A Division II tournament record with 86 points, averaging 28.7 points and 20.7 rebounds per game.
TRI-VALLEY WINS TROPHY: The Titans (15-8) earned the consolation trophy with a 59-54 overtime win against Carey. Tri-Valley’s Grace Ertel and Larissa Hansen each scored 15 points.