After scouting Idaho Falls, Middleton coach Alex Maxwell decided he could live with whatever Austin Staker provided the Tigers.
Staker proved him wrong Thursday, hitting 8-of-8 shots and 6-of-6 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 23 points in a 54-44 win over Middleton in the first round of the 4A state tournament at Borah High.
“We took the gamble thinking if we stay in his lap, he’s not going to kill us,” Maxwell said. “But as you can see, scrambling around, we got away from him and he hit shots. He hit wide-open 3s, and half of them were over a hand.
“If a kid makes 6-for-6 from 3, then you’re probably in trouble. He was clutch.”
It is Idaho Falls’ (13-12) first state tournament victory since 1999. The former 5A program advances to face the winner of Thursday’s late game between Burley and Vallivue in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Borah.
Middleton (16-9) cut the lead to one point in the third quarter and three in the fourth. But the Vikings’ couldn’t get over the hump and trailed throughout the second half.
“We kind of fell apart as far as executing and taking our time,” Maxwell said. “We panicked a little bit.”
Idaho Falls 6-6 forward Sawyer Storms controlled the game throughout, racking up 15 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and a pair of two-handed dunks. The second put the game away at 51-43 with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter.
David Kofoed scored 11 points, and Carter Arrasmith, Tyler Wilson and Reece Robinett each added seven for the Vikings, who face the loser of Burley (16-8) at 3 p.m. Friday at Borah in the consolation semifinals.