The Mountain View High girls basketball team has spent the entire season as Idaho’s No. 1 team. It showed why Thursday.
The Mavericks had their way with third-ranked Timberline up and down the court, invoking the running-clock, mercy rule at the start of the fourth quarter en route to a 63-25 victory.
The victory was just the latest blowout win for Mountain View (16-0, 14-0 5A SIC). Twelve of Mountain View’s 16 victories thus far were by 20 or more points. And Thursday’s blowout followed a five-point win over Timberline in November, showing the Mavericks might be getting better as the season rolls along.
“That’s a statement right there that we can handle any team in the state,” said Mountain View senior guard Darian White, a Montana State signee. “I feel so confident that we can definitely be a state championship team this year.”
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It’s not hard to see why. The Mavericks own the state’s top offense (61.3 ppg) and top defense (35.8 ppg), and they wasted little time putting their full arsenal on display. Their man-to-man defense spurred an 11-0 lead to start the game, forced 21 turnovers and held the Wolves (12-4, 10-4) to 7-for-39 shooting (18 percent).
Meanwhile, Mountain View showcased its balanced lineup of quick, athletic guards and size inside the paint. White poured in 20 points, five steals and five assists. Freshman forward Naya Ojukwu racked up 11 points and seven rebounds, and Laila Saenz finished with nine points and six assists.
The 6-foot Ojukwu, along with the 6-1 Emma Anthony and 6-3 Braelyn Whitelock, give the Mavericks the size they never had as they qualified for the past six state tournaments. Their presence could make the Mavericks more dangerous than ever since they don’t have to rely on their outside shooting night in and night out.
Mountain View coach Connie Skogrand said it’s tough to compare teams, but she added this year’s squad has more depth than even the state championship squads of 2015 and 2016.
“You’ve got to keep them hungry,” Skogrand said. “That’s our challenge as coaches. We’ve got to keep them hungry all the time. We’ve got two more weeks (until district), and anything can happen.”
The Mavericks haven’t had any trouble thus far. With few opponents to push them, they’ve instead turned their focus inward. They’ve embraced the target that comes with the state’s No. 1 ranking, using it as fuel and continuing to raise the bar.
“We always get motivation from that because we know everyone is going after us,” Saenz said. “We’re the target. We know everyone is right behind us. We hear footsteps, so we just stay motivated that way.”
Mountain View turned to November’s close call at Timberline for motivation this week. The Mavericks led by 20 points in the first meeting only to watch the Wolves shoot their way back to a five-point deficit at the final buzzer. Timberline hadn’t lost since then and knocked off perennial power Eagle last week, vaulting to No. 3 in the state media poll Wednesday.
That only caused Mountain View to lick its chops. Champions aren’t crowned in January. But after a 27-point win over No. 2 Lake City in November, the Mavericks can add a 38-point win over the state’s No. 3 team to their resume.
“This game proved what we are able to do, what we’re capable of,” White said. “This game should prove to teams that they should be scared of us.”