As he dropped into a defensive stance, Delveion Jackson clapped his hands twice and eyed his opponent.
With about 2 minutes, 30 seconds to play and a one-point lead, Jackson was letting the crowd — and Post Falls — know the Patriots weren’t going to be rattled.
That confidence translated to the free-throw line, where Centennial went 7-for-8 in the final 30 seconds to complete its second upset in as many days with a 72-61 semifinal victory over Post Falls on Friday at the Ford Idaho Center.
Centennial entered the 5A state tournament as the No. 4 seed from District Three.
“We’re confident right now. The guys are believing, and that’s what it takes when you get to this tournament,” Centennial coach Josh Aipperspach said. “You never know what’s going to happen once you get here. It’s three games.
“We played the No. 1 team in the state and then the third team in the state, and (Saturday) we’ve got the second team in the state.”
In a game that featured 16 lead changes and 10 ties, neither could find much separation. Centennial’s final margin of victory was the largest lead of the game.
Even with 11 3-pointers, it took an ice-in-the-veins performance at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter for the Patriots to prevail. Centennial finished 16-for-19 from the line in the final eight minutes.
“It was really surreal. The game was kind of a blur, but we came out and executed what we needed to do,” said Centennial senior Jackson Cleverley, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds. “At the end of the day, we’re in the state championship. This was our goal from Day One. We knew we had it in us.”
Senior guard Brooks King led the Patriots’ charge against the Trojans, knocking down four 3s for a game-high 24 points. Jackson collected 21 points, eight boards and five assists while also scoring nine of Centennial’s 23 points in the fourth quarter.
“It always feels good to get to where you’ve wanted to go ever since you were little,” King said. “But winning tomorrow would be a dream, so we’re going to try and take care of business.”
CENTENNIAL 72, POST FALLS 61
Post Falls (19-4) — Colby Gennett 4 points, Drake Thompson 15, Cameron McKeown 2, Tanner McCliment-Call 13, Casey Walker 1, David Bourgard 8, Jake Pfennigs 16, Nick Morris 2. Rebound leader: Pfennigs 7. Assist leader: Thompson 2.
Centennial (17-10) — Brooks King 24 points, Parker Martens 3, Kam Modrow 3, Jaydon Clark 9, Jackson Cleverley 12, Delveion Jackson 21. Rebound leader: Jackson 8. Assist leader: Jackson 5.