Girls High School Basketball

Eagle girls basketball one step closer to perfection, state title after OT scare

Watch the wild finish between Eagle and Mountain View in 5A girls basketball seminfinals

The Eagle High girls basketball team beat Mountain View 54-53 in overtime in the Idaho 5A girls basketball state tournament semifinals.
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The Eagle High girls basketball team beat Mountain View 54-53 in overtime in the Idaho 5A girls basketball state tournament semifinals.

The matchup fans have waited for all year is finally here.

Idaho’s two powerhouses — No. 1-ranked Eagle (26-0) and No. 2 Post Falls (23-2) — will battle for the 5A girls basketball state championship at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center.

But neither found the route free of drama. Eagle had to rally late in overtime to stave off an upset bid from SIC rival Mountain View, and Post Falls only escaped with a two-point win when Tyler McCliment-Call sank a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to finally put away Borah.

5A: Eagle 54, Mountain View 53 (OT)

After routing opponents by 25 points per game in the regular season, the road to Eagle’s first state title has gotten progressively tougher and steeper.

The Mustangs, ranked No. 25 in the nation by USA Today, received their largest threat yet Friday. But the Mustangs remained calm and pulled out a one-point, overtime victory to advance to the state championship for the second year in a row.

“They’re just a special group,” said Eagle coach Cody Pickett, whose team’s closest win was six points before Friday. “The seniors have been to this tournament three times, and we’ve been in the hunt pretty much all three times. They’ve been there. They didn’t panic.”

Eagle had plenty of reason to panic as Mountain View (18-8), a team it beat by 29 points in December, rained 3s and Darian White (22 points) and Alison Chanhthala (21 points) caught fire.

The Mustangs could only watch as White’s potential game-winning 3 at the end of regulation struck the back of the iron. And Grace Caldwell put the Mavericks ahead 53-52 with 42 seconds left in overtime with a putback.

But Eagle passed up a timeout, snatched the ball out of the hoop and sprinted upcourt on the break. The move paid off as McKenna Emerson sank the game-winning shot on a running 5-foot floater with 32.6 seconds left.

On a team loaded with scoring threats, Emerson normally shines on the defensive end. Her game-winning shot was just her second field goal of the game as the Northwest Nazarene signee finished with four points.

But it didn’t surprise the Mustangs.

“I knew she’d make it. She always does,” Eagle senior Katelyn Murray said. “She can come out in those clutch situations, and when we need her, she always manages to come through.”

Murray poured in a game-high 23 points and added even rebounds for Eagle. After struggling the past two games, including a scoreless performance in the district championship game, the Army signee dominated the paint Friday.

“Kate is just a stud,” Pickett said. “She gives you 100 percent effort every night, every day, every practice. And if we’re not going as hard as we should be, she’s the first one to say something.”

Meghan Boyd scored 12 points, Idaho signee Janie King added seven points and 10 rebounds, and Jaimee McKinnie finished with eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Mountain View drops into the third-place game against Borah (19-6) at noon Saturday at Ridgevue High, where the Mavericks will try to win a state tournament trophy for the fifth straight year.

5A: Post Falls 47, Borah 45

McCliment-Call rescued the Trojans from a first-round upset in the fourth quarter. And the Post Falls sophomore did it again in the semifinals.

McCliment-Call caught, fired and sank a corner 3 with 12 seconds left to stave off an upset from Borah and put the Trojans in the state finals for the second time in six years.

“Even last year as a freshman, you could see she plays with no fear,” Post Falls coach Marc Allert said. “In those situations, she knows she’s going to get the job done. … There’s no doubt in her mind that she’s going to make that shot.”

McCliment-Call poured in a game-high 24 points and added seven rebounds after a 22-point performance in the first round. Post Falls senior forward Melody Kempton, a Gonzaga signee, added 15 points and 10 rebounds to set up a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, which Eagle won on its way to a second-place finish.

“I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Allert said. “It’s the matchup everybody has been talking about all year. We’re happy we’re here.”

Borah struggled out of the gate, trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half. But the Lions rallied to take the lead early in the fourth quarter and Alesia Jones’ 22-foot 3-pointer spotted Borah a 45-44 lead with 1:57 left. Neither team scored again until McCliment-Call’s game-winning shot.

Alyssa Bolt led Borah with 20 points and eight rebounds, Nyalam Thabach added seven points and six rebounds, and Jones finished with seven points and five rebounds.

4A: Century 55, Middleton 40

Century missed just three shots in the second half, squelching any hope of a Middleton comeback Friday night at Mountain View High.

The Diamondbacks shot a blazing 76.9 percent from the floor and 100 percent from the free-throw line in the final 16 minutes to advance to the 4A state championship for the third time in four seasons.

Century (19-6) faces Burley (19-7) in the title game at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa, while Middleton (19-7) and Bishop Kelly (20-6) will meet for the fourth time this season with the third-place trophy on the line.

Saturday’s 4A championship game will be played without a District Three team for the first time since 2007.

“We shot poorly the first half, and when we got a little momentum, they just wouldn’t miss shots,” Middleton coach Andy Jones said. “… They made some shots that were like, ‘Wow.’ You’ve got to hand it to them, they buckled down the second half and played really clutch. They never let us get momentum away from them completely.”

Middleton pulled within four points, 28-24, with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter, but that was as close as the Vikings would get the rest of the way.

Sophomore Lexi Bull led all scorers with 15 points for the Diamondbacks, and 6-foot-1 junior post Chinma Njoku controlled the paint with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Meriah Deugan and Lexi Mitchell each scored 10 points to pace the Vikings, who were trying for back-to-back championships.

“The kids are upset, but they understand they lost to a really good team,” Jones said. “They played hard. They know there’s not a whole lot else they could have done. You play your butts off and do everything you can. If shots don’t go, shots don’t go.”

4A: Burley 34, Bishop Kelly 23

In an ideal world, Bishop Kelly High senior Lydia Nieto wouldn’t have sprained her ankle in the opening round of the 4A state tournament.

But losing the reigning 4A All-Idaho Player of the Year wasn’t the reason the Knights lost to Burley in Friday’s semifinals at Mountain View High.

“The girls played hard. They played really hard. We just couldn’t get any baskets to fall,” Bishop Kelly coach Derek McCormick said. “It was ridiculous.”

The Knights shot just 15.8 percent from the floor, 9.1 percent from 3-point range and failed to make a field goal in the fourth quarter in their lowest scoring output of the season.

“We’ve won plenty of games where Lydia scores two points,” McCormick said. “But she can do things that open up other things for other people, and she’s also a confidence-builder for us.

“But at the same time, that’s not the reason we lost.”

Burley led just 19-16 at halftime, but senior point guard Sydney Pilling started and ended the third quarter with a 3-pointer to keep the momentum on the Bobcats’ side. Pilling finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three steals, and senior post Jemilynn Mahoney added 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Bobcats will play in the state title game for the first time since 2007, which is also the same year they claimed the program’s one and only championship.

Senior Theresa Reeping was the only Knight to reach double digits against the Bobcats, coming through with a double-double of 11 points and 13 boards.

While the loss was disappointing for a BK team that had its eye on a third straight appearance in the state title game, McCormick kept things in perspective for his girls.

“A trophy just goes and sits in the fricking trophy case and no one ever sees it,” McCormick said. “The memories that they create together, those are the things you can never take away. That’s why you play sports in high school.”

3A final: Sugar-Salem vs. Snake River

Sugar-Salem (24-2) has won its two state tournament games by a total of 45 points going into the championship showdown with Snake River (19-6). Macie Knapp scored 23 points for Sugar-Salem on Friday. Kelsey Higginson scored 20 for Snake River.

2A final: Soda Springs vs. Ririe

Soda Springs (25-1) took out undefeated Melba in the semifinals, 44-32. Sadie Gronning of Soda Springs and Kori Pentzer of Melba each scored 18 points. Ririe (22-4) beat Cole Valley Christian 54-40. Maddie Johnson and Indee Williams scored 15 points each for Ririe.

1A Division I final: Prairie vs. Oakley

Prairie (24-2) and Oakley (24-1) have combined for just three losses this season. India Peery led Prairie with 17 points in the semifinals. Brittany Hardy scored 16 for Oakley.

1A Division II final: Genesis Prep vs. Butte County

Butte County (22-3) has won its two tournament games by a combined score of 114-39 and is 22-3 on the season. Tausha Cummins scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the semifinals. Genesis Prep (15-9) got another 28 points from Bella Murekateta in its Friday game, giving her 61 points in the tournament.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts