Midway through the third quarter, Middleton trudged back down the court after a sloppy turnover.
The Bishop Kelly boys basketball team didn’t wait for the Vikings to set up, instead breaking down the court at full speed and hitting a streaking Bronson King for an uncontested layup and a 15-point lead.
The Knights rode that breakneck speed, 9-for-14 shooting from the 3-point line and 30 points from Max Rice to a 75-62 victory over Middleton on Thursday to win their second straight 4A District Three championship over the Vikings.
“I think it’s hard for teams to get back on us because we’ve got so many guys who can push it up. I think we took that from Chino Hills. We’re trying to play some Chino Hills ball and throw it up and get a little Melo Ball,” joked Rice, referring to the 92 points LaMello Ball scored for a California high school earlier this month.
Both teams had already punched their tickets to state before Thursday. As the district champ, Bishop Kelly (19-4) will face the runner-up from the Twin Falls area, either Jerome or Burley, in the first round of the 4A state tournament, which starts Thursday at Borah High. Middleton (16-8) draws Idaho Falls (12-12) at 6:15 p.m.
The Knights never trailed Thursday, using the constant pressure and athleticism of their five-guard lineup to keep the game out of the halfcourt and negate Middleton’s size advantage.
The Vikings cut the lead to one point midway through the second quarter, but Bishop Kelly closed the half on an 18-4 run before Rice took over the third quarter.
The son of Boise State coach Leon Rice scored 12 of his 30 points in the third quarter, including 11 straight for BK that included 3-pointers from 22 and 25 feet.
“Max is one of the most confident people I know,” said BK senior guard Jacob Russell, who scored 13. “When he starts going, get out of his way. He’s like Larry Bird. Those players, you just feed them the rock, feed them the rock and let them shoot.
“... Not only is it fun to watch for everyone, it’s fun to be a part of.”
Senior forward Caden Stevenson led Middleton with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The Vikings head into the state tournament winners of 15 of their last 18 games. All three losses came to Bishop Kelly, which resides on the opposite side of the state bracket.
VALLIVUE BEATS SKYVIEW, HEADS TO STATE
Vallivue pulled ahead in the second quarter and never surrendered the lead again, beating Skyview 44-36 at Ridgevue High on Thursday to earn a third-place finish at the 4A District Three Tournament and its first state tournament berth since 2010.
Senior guard Nick Fitts scored a game-high 14 points for Vallivue (18-7), which is in its first year back in the 4A classification and survived the suspension of two senior starters to advance to Thursday’s winner-to-state, loser-out game.
The win capped Vallivue’s fourth game in four days.
“It was brutal, but it was all worth it,” Vallivue coach Ryan Lundgren said. “I think there’s something to be said for being that last team in state, going in the back way. Because on a daily basis you’re having to win with your back against the wall.”
DeMonte Horton led Skyview (14-8) with 10 points and six rebounds.
5A title: Rocky Mountain vs. Boise
Rocky Mountain (22-1) is playing in the 5A District Three championship game for the fourth time in five seasons. The Grizzlies tip off against upstart Boise (18-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Capital High. Rocky won the program’s only district championship in 2015.