On paper, Friday night was when the perfect season ended.
Eagle High’s leading scorer shot 0-for-11 from the field, starter Jaimee McKinnie needed to be carried off the court in the first quarter with an ankle injury and the Mustangs shot 3-for-8 at the free-throw line down the stretch.
But Eagle (24-0) turned to its deep bench and gutted out a 51-45 victory over Borah in the 5A District Three girls basketball championship game, its second straight district title.
“I talked about earlier in the year how deep we are, and I think we showed that tonight,” Eagle coach Cody Pickett said. “We lose a girl that’s arguably one of the best in the state, and we plugged in some girls behind her and found a way to win against a really good Borah team.”
The Mustangs stormed the court to celebrate just the second district title in school history. But a larger trophy remains in their sights: the school’s first state title.
No. 1-ranked Eagle will face the winner of Saturday’s play-in game between Boise (15-10) and Lewiston (17-7) in the first round of the 5A state tournament at 1:15 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Idaho Center.
No. 4 Borah (18-5) faces No. 2 Post Falls (21-2) at 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Idaho Center. Both teams already had qualified for state before Friday’s district title game.
“This is one of our goals,” Eagle senior guard Janie King said of a district title. “But our main goal is a state championship. Our hard work paid off for this, but we’ve got a bigger goal in front of us.”
McKinnie’s injury put the Mustangs in an early hole. Borah’s Nyalam Thabach then took away Eagle’s top scoring option, Army signee Katelyn Murray, with suffocating defense in the paint on her way to a 17-point, 18-rebound night.
The combination put Eagle in a rare position — a tight game. Eagle entered Friday with an average margin of victory of 25.9 points per game and had won 19 of its 25 games by double digits.
Our goal is to win a state championship, and we haven’t done that.”
Cody Pickett, Eagle girls basketball coach
But junior point guard Meghan Boyd poured in 15 points, King added 13 points and eight rebounds, and the bench trio of Betsey King, Eliza deVera and Dana Murray combined for 13 points and ate up 36 key minutes.
“All 10 girls on that bench can play,” Boyd said. “And there are girls on that bench that can start on other teams in the Valley. It’s just a great group of girls that I’ve been able to play with.”
Friday’s six-point margin of victory ties the lowest for Eagle during its undefeated season. It also beat Bishop Kelly and Kuna by six points in November.
Eagle’s blowouts have drawn national attention to the program, earning the Mustangs a No. 24 ranking in the latest USA Today Super 25 rankings. But that hasn’t distracted Eagle from its state title aspirations.
“We never really had a lot of this in mind, but we just kept playing,” Boyd said. “We didn’t look at everything we were accomplishing and kept playing and did what we do.”
4A championship Saturday
The No. 1-ranked Middleton (18-5) and No. 2-ranked Bishop Kelly (18-5) girls basketball teams will meet for the seventh time in the past two years in the 4A District Three Championship game. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Ridgevue High.
It’s a rematch of last year’s district and state championship games. Middleton won both titles in 2016-17, and it has won four of the past five games against the Knights.