Eagle girls basketball returns to the 5A state championship game
History remains just one step away for the Mountain View High girls basketball team.
The Mavericks cruised past Timberline on Friday for a 52-40 win in the 5A state semifinals at the Ford Idaho Center, stretching their perfect record to 25-0.
No 5A girls basketball team has finished the season undefeated since Coeur d’Alene went 25-0 in 2009. And no 5A Treasure Valley team has done it since Meridian in 1983.
But before Mountain View can go down as one of the greatest teams in Idaho history, it has one more obstacle — district rival Eagle (21-5) in the state championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Idaho Center.
“It’s our year, and this should be our game,” Mountain View senior guard Darian White said.
The two West Ada programs have battled for state supremacy the past five years. But Mountain View doesn’t have to look any further than Eagle for a cautionary tale. The Mustangs entered last season’s title game undefeated and nationally ranked, only to fall to Post Falls.
Mountain View owns three wins over Eagle this season. Eagle also proved that was no guarantee of a title when it beat Centennial three times in 2017 only to lose to the Patriots in the championship.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 52, TIMBERLINE 40
Mountain View fell a White 3-pointer at the buzzer short of reaching last year’s state title game. So the Mavericks made sure they didn’t need any last-second heroics Friday.
Mountain View raced out to a 13-2 lead early in the first quarter and never let Timberline off the mat to rack up its 22nd double-digit win of the season.
“At the beginning of the game, we saw them messing around,” White said. “I was like, ‘We’re going to slap them in the face.’ They are happy to be here. We were mad from last year.”
The closest Timberline got the rest of the way was six points on an Ava Ranson 3-pointer with 3:50 left in the third. But Mountain View junior Laila Saenz answered with back-to-back 3s to stretch the lead back to 12 points and squash any thoughts of a comeback.
Mountain View forward Naya Ojukwu continued to dominate the paint, finishing with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot freshman has looked anything but her age on the state’s largest stage, controlling the lane on both ends of the floor and filling lanes on the fastbreak like a guard.
“I’ve never seen anything like her, mentality wise,” White said. “She’s so relaxed. I’ve never once seen her frustrated. She puts a smile on everybody’s face. She smiles herself whenever there is a bad situation. … I can’t imagine what she’s going to be like her senior year.”
White, a Montana State signee, finished with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals. Emma Anthony helped get the Mavs started with two early 3-pointers and finished with 10 points. And Saenz added nine more as Mountain View showcased the depth that’s made it unstoppable thus far.
“Throughout the season, I started eight different lineups, and more than once,” Mountain View coach Connie Skogrand said. “This group at the end, I just settled on them. They seem to play best together coming out and starting. But throughout the first 20 games, I was looking at matchups all the way and seeing what’s the better matchup.”
The perfect record has loomed over Mountain View’s head all season. But instead of running from it, the Mavericks have embraced it and turned it into fuel.
“We talk about it a lot actually,” Saenz said. “We know that everyone’s after us, so we use that as motivation. They want to catch up to us, but we’re doing everything we can.”
EAGLE 61, BOISE 55
The names change. But the result stays the same for Eagle.
The Mustangs trailed by one entering the fourth quarter before holding Boise scoreless for 5 minutes, 33 seconds to return to the state championship game for the third straight season.
After graduating two Division I-bound seniors last season and another headed to Division II Northwest Nazarene, few would have expected Eagle to get another shot at its first title. Yet here it is.
“I’ve just got competitive, athletic girls that have really just learned how to win,” Eagle coach Cody Pickett said. “This year is different because we don’t get all the press clippings and everything, which has been fine. Last year, we had pressure every game. It was: ‘Are you going to lose? Are you going to lose?’ This year, we kind of fell under the radar.”
Senior guard and sharpshooter Meghan Boyd paced Eagle again, pouring in a game-high 25 points and shooting 4-for-6 behind the 3-point line. That adds to the five straight 3s she sank to finish Eagle’s first-round win over Lake City.
The passionate signee with the University of Denver punctuated several 3-pointers Friday by flexing her biceps toward the crowd.
“I’ve been playing with Meg since fifth grade, and she’s always had a big personality on the court,” Eagle senior Jaimee McKinnie said. “I love her to death. … I’d give the ball to Meg in any situation.”
Boyd and McKinnie played key roles on Eagle’s last two runs to the finals, which both ended in defeat. Both said they’ve learned a lot from the past two years. And instead of entering the game as heavy favorites, they get to play the underdog to undefeated Mountain View.
“I think we’ve learned from those experiences, just learning how to deal with things that don’t come our way,” Boyd said. “Those two games didn’t go our way. Hopefully this year, the third time is the charm.”
(all games Saturday at Ford Idaho Center in Nampa)
9:30 a.m.: 1A Division II: Salmon River (21-2) vs. Carey (21-1)
11:30 a.m.: 1A Division I: Shoshone (23-1) vs. Genesee (20-8)
1:40 p.m.: 2A: Melba (24-1) vs. Soda Springs (26-0)
3:50 p.m.: 3A: Sugar-Salem (23-2) vs. Parma (23-2)
6 p.m.: 4A: Century (26-0) vs. Caldwell (21-5)
8 p.m.: 5A: Eagle (21-5) vs. Mountain View (25-0)