The Mountain View High girls basketball team entered last year’s state tournament with shirts emblazoned with the motto “Unfinished business.”
But as any business owner will say, the key to success is repeat business. And the Mavericks enter the 5A state tournament Thursday at the Ford Idaho Center as the heavy favorite to bring home a second straight title.
“Our motto this year is ‘Nothing less,’ nothing less than another state championship,” Mountain View senior point guard Destiny Slocum said.
With Slocum — the No. 7-ranked recruit in the U.S. in 2016, according to ESPNW — the Mavericks (20-4) field the most dynamic player in any of the six state tournaments this week. She leads an offense that set a 5A state tournament scoring record last year (68.3 points per game) and enters as the top-scoring offense in 5A this season (68.7 ppg). And Mountain View headed out of state in December to the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix to test itself against some of the nation’s top teams.
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Junior guard Abby Kreiser said Mountain View felt more pressure entering last year’s state tournament. After losing nearly all of its rebounding to graduation, she said she’s only heard how the Mavericks can’t repeat because of their lack of size.
But the guard-heavy lineup has run past anyone trying to slow the game down.
“We run nonstop,” Slocum said. “If we’re facing anybody — small teams, tall teams — that’s been our goal all year: To run a team out of the gym all four quarters. There’s been a lot of games where we’ve had a tough three quarters, a tough two quarters. And in that second half, we come out and just run.”
Last year’s championship was the first in program history, representing a breakthrough for a team that had come close multiple times. But Kreiser said a title this year would mean more.
Only five teams have won consecutive state titles at the 5A level, none since Coeur d’Alene from 2008-10.
“Something that has stuck in my mind is if you ask anyone who has won multiple championships, you ask them which one was the best one, and they’ll all say that second one,” Kreiser said. “Because you’re defending your crown, you’re proving to everybody that you really are that top team again.”
CAN CENTENNIAL BREAK THROUGH?
The duo of senior forward Dominique Williams and junior guard Tori Williams (no relation) has carried the Patriots to a 59-14 record the past three years. But Centennial hasn’t translated that success to state.
The Patriots failed to make it to state in 2014, then lost their opening-round game last year to Rocky Mountain before falling in the consolation final to Eagle.
But with four returning starters, a roster full of freshmen and sophomores has matured into one with juniors and seniors.
TWIN TOWERS LEAD BOISE
Between 6-2 senior forward Issy Hadden, an Idaho signee, and 6-1 junior forward Mandy Simpson, another Division I prospect, the Braves field the 5A tournament’s most dominant front court.
Simpson averages 16.2 points and 11.6 rebounds per game, while Hadden averages 13.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks.
The duo carried Boise to the state championship game last year. But the Braves have struggled against 5A’s top teams this season, going 3-5 against teams in the state tournament.
4A: SIC LOOKS TO RECLAIM TOP SPOT
The Southern Idaho Conference used to rule the 4A classification, winning five straight state titles until Century edged Skyview last year in the final.
The Diamondbacks (18-4) return with four-year starting point guard Rian Rawlings. But Minico (21-3) has lost one game to a 4A opponent this season and finished the year as the state’s top-ranked team.
With no one taller than 5-9, Minico relies on a bevy of shooters. But with Bishop Kelly’s Gabi Harrington (Montana signee), Kuna’s dominant post game led by Allison Law, and Sandpoint and its own Montana signee (Madi Schoening) lurking, the 4A field remains wide open if Minico goes cold.
“This is our seventh one we’ve been in, and this is the most even state tournament ever,” Bishop Kelly coach Derek McCormick said. “Usually, you have one team where it’s, ‘That team is going to win it. Someone has got to knock them off.’
“Now, I think it’s pretty even. I think it’s pretty much anybody’s game.”
3A: SRV SEEKS TO END DROUGHT
No 3A Treasure Valley team has won a state title since Kuna in 1990. Emmett (19-5) remains the Snake River Valley’s best shot with dynamic sophomore guard Lillie Smith capable of taking over any game. But Weiser (12-10) and its defense upset the Huskies on its way to the district title.
The entire field, including undefeated Kimberly (22-0), is chasing top-ranked Timberlake (20-1). The Tigers finished second the past two years and return a pair of first-team All-Idaho members in junior guards Allison Kirby and Keelie Lawler. Timberlake has won 20 straight by an average of 31.4 points per game since a two-point, season-opening loss at 5A Lewiston.
The schools with the most girls basketball state titles in the IHSAA era, which began in 1976.
State tournament tickets
Admission is $6 (general) and $5 (discount), and tournament passes are $25 (general) and $20 (discount). Championship admission is $8 (general) and $6 (discount). Senior citizens, students in grades 7-12 with an activity card and students in grades 1-6 may purchase discounted tickets and passes. Children under 6 are admitted free. There is an additional charge for debit card users at the Ford Idaho Center.