Facing adversity again, Preston didn’t back down.
The Indians responded like they have throughout the past two weeks, rallying to win their second straight 4A state championship with a 56-52 overtime victory over Vallivue at the Ford Idaho Center.
“We kept working, we kept believing, and that’s been our motto the whole state tournament,” Preston senior Bodee Hymas said. “We never got down, and we never quit believing. We just went out and got it done.”
Preston (23-4) was upset by Idaho Falls in its district championship game last week, forcing the Indians to earn a berth at state through the back door. Then in the state semifinals, Preston rallied from a 12-point deficit with 3:17 left in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind victory against Bishop Kelly.
So Preston didn’t panic when it fell behind six points in the fourth quarter Saturday, then rallied for the lead only to watch Vallivue’s Jordan Moran send the game into overtime with a 25-foot 3-pointer on a broken play at the buzzer.
The Indians recommitted to finding 6-foot-7 center Brayden Parker in the paint, and the junior spotted Preston an overtime lead it never surrendered with four quick points. Preston sank 6-of-6 free throws in the extra period to fend off any last-minute Vallivue comeback.
“With our backs against the wall, we played our best,” Preston coach Tyler Jones said. “Credit to our kids.”
Parker led Preston with 16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Derek Wadsworth added 16 points and six rebounds.
Vallivue senior Nick Fitts scored a game-high 18 points, Moran added 14 and Landon Cain tallied eight points and 12 rebounds for the Falcons (20-8), who reached the state finals for the first time since 2008.
Vallive coach Ryan Lundgren told his team a second-place trophy was nothing to hang its head over.
“I held it up and said this is a lot more than wood and metal with ‘second place’ on it,” Lundgren said. “This is all the blood, sweat and tears we’ve fought through, and all the hard work, early morning workouts and the practices, and the ups and downs. It’s something to be proud of.”
Preston’s victory places another state championship trophy in the Jones family tree. It’s Tyler Jones’ second, adding to his father Terry’s six titles at Malad and his brother Justin’s three championships at Rigby.
Tyler Jones also won a pair of state championships playing for his father at Malad.
“It’s special,” Tyler Jones said. “We grew up in the gym. We grew up watching my dad coach every state tournament we were at. To see my brother at Rigby do well and to be here — it’s been in our family and it’s special. It’s great to continue that on.”