The Boise High boys basketball program has overturned the traditional power structure in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference this season.
And the Braves can claim one reason — defense.
Once a four-letter word at Boise, defense has the Braves (11-2, 8-1 5A SIC) in second place in the conference. And Boise hosts first-place Rocky Mountain (13-1, 9-0) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday with a chance to move to the top of the 12-team league.
The Braves are holding opponents to a league-low 43.4 points per game, a 13.3-point improvement since Manny Varela took over the program two years ago.
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The Braves are 26-9 since hiring Varela, 34, a former Borah assistant.
With three weeks remaining before the district tournament, the turnaround has Boise eyeing a bye into the district quarterfinals and its first state tournament berth since 1997.
“This year, I think our team just cares about getting to state,” Boise junior guard Paul Pennington said. “There’s no me mentality. It’s just all about us.”
1997 The last time at Boise High boys basketball team qualified for the state tournament