Two of the most dominant 4A girls basketball programs in Idaho reside in the Treasure Valley. But for just the second time in history, Bishop Kelly and Middleton will meet in the state championship.
The two 4A Southern Idaho Conference teams tip off at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Idaho Center nine days after meeting in the district championship game, which Middleton won.
“I love playing Middleton,” Bishop Kelly coach Derek McCormick said. “It’s our rival, and hopefully they think we’re their rival. They have a great fan base, and they’re going to bring a lot of people to that gym. Hopefully, it’ll be loud for the girls and exciting.”
MIDDLETON 56, PRESTON 55
After Preston hit its own potential game-winner, the Indians wanted the ball to find anyone but Zoey Moore.
But Middleton’s freshman and leading scorer fielded a diving pass from Emerson Sauer on the baseline, then floated and sank a running 3-footer with 5 seconds left to lift the Vikings (20-6) to victory at Mountain View High.
“It was crazy. I looked up at the clock and there were 4 seconds left, and I was like, ‘OK, we got this.’ I just couldn’t believe it.”
The win marks Middleton’s 15th straight victory and sends it to its fourth meeting with Bishop Kelly (20-7) this year. Middleton won two of the first three, including last week’s district final.
The Vikings return to the Idaho Center for the first time since 2012, the last of its three straight championships.
“These kids, it’s their first time,” Middleton coach Andy Jones said. “So they don’t know what it’s like being back. They’ll walk in that place tomorrow, and they’re going to be absolutely on Cloud Nine.”
Moore took over the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of her game-high 29 points. She gave Middleton its first lead of the night when she drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:53 left, then added a pair of free throws with 36.3 seconds remaining that put Middleton back ahead 54-53.
Preston briefly answered when Harley Carlisle sank an 8-foot jumper off an inbound pass with 20 seconds left. But instead of calling timeout and allowing the Indians to set up their trapping defense, Middleton pushed the ball up the court until it found Moore in the soft spot under the zone.
The floater capped a comeback that saw Middleton fall into a 17-4 hole to start the game. The Vikings slowly chipped away until finally overtaking the Indians late in the fourth quarter.
“We just knew that we weren’t going to back down,” Moore said. “We just kept fighting. The score didn’t really bother us. We just knew in our heads it was going to end in our favor.”
BISHOP KELLY 33, TWIN FALLS 30 (OT)
A year after losing in the state championship, the Knights will return for a shot at redemption after beating the Bruins in overtime.
“I’m excited as heck for our girls to be able to get back there,” said McCormick, who was diagnosed with leukemia a month after last year’s title game. “It’s been a long year, so just to be able to get back is pretty awesome.”
McCormick jokingly called Friday’s semifinal “the worst game in 4A history” as both teams shot 19 percent from the floor and combined for 42 turnovers.
But Bishop Kelly came up with the defensive stops when it needed them, and sophomore Olivia Kent drained 3-of-6 free throws in overtime to seal the Knights’ third trip to the Idaho Center in five years.
“I’m so excited,” said Kent, who admitted her arms shook as she raised for her free throws. “I really think we’re going to go in there, and we can do it. We’re going to come in with more motivation, and we’re going to play so hard.”
Theresa Reeping led the Knights with nine points, Monica Behrend added six and Lydia Nieto had five points and seven rebounds. Kennedi Evans led Twin Falls with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
SKYVIEW 35, CENTURY 34
Emma Teriipaia sank a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to give Skyview the lead, and the Hawks (13-12) forced a turnover on the ensuing possession to advance to the consolation championship against Minico (17-9) at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at Mountain View.
Natalie Robison scored 11 points and Madie Edwards added nine to lead Skyview.
MINICO 46, SANDPOINT 35
Minico dominated the boards, out rebounding a larger Sandpoint lineup 47-28 to move on to the consolation championship.
Taylia Stimpson scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Saydi Anderson added 14 points and six rebounds for Minico.