Boys High School Basketball

Boys basketball tournaments start Thursday — who’s going to win state titles?

Bishop Kelly’s Raoul Johnson eyes the basket in the 4A District Three Tournament championship against Middleton on Feb. 23 at Ridgevue High.
Bishop Kelly’s Raoul Johnson eyes the basket in the 4A District Three Tournament championship against Middleton on Feb. 23 at Ridgevue High. kjones@idahostatesman.com

The six Idaho boys state basketball tournaments tip off Thursday afternoon before awarding their championships Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. The Idaho Statesman handicaps the field in every classification below, from 5A to 1A Division II.

Check out brackets for every tournament here.

CLASS 5A

THE FAVORITE

MADISON: The Bobcats (21-1) return nearly their entire lineup after a runner-up finish at state last year, and have carried the mantle as the favorite all season long, going wire-to-wire as the state’s No. 1 ranked team. Madison’s lone loss came in Utah, and it has crushed everyone else in its path, outscoring opponents by 22.7 points per game. Senior point Jaxon Edelmayer (14.9 ppg), a reigning second-team All-Idaho pick, leads the 5A’s top offense (69.6 ppg).

THE CONTENDER

ROCKY MOUNTAIN: In any other year, the Grizzlies (23-1) would be the runaway favorite with their 22-game winning streak and an average margin of victory of 20.8 points. Instead, Rocky Mountain is the state’s wire-to-wire second-ranked team behind Madison. Senior forward Kolby Lee, a BYU signee, draws all the headlines. But point guard Kobe Terashima (10.9 ppg, 6.7 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 steals) is the heart, soul and brains of the Grizzlies.

THE DARK HORSE

BOISE: None of the Braves were alive the last time Boise (18-5) made it to the state tournament. Under second-year coach Manny Varela, Boise has rebuilt itself into the state’s top defense at 44.5 points per game. The Braves also feature plenty of offensive firepower in Paul Pennington, the 5A SIC’s leading scorer at 18.3 ppg, and Lucas Centeno. The only question is how will they handle the bigger stage?

CLASS 4A

THE FAVORITE

PRESTON: The defending state champ fell to Idaho Falls in its district championship game but managed to make it back to state, where the Indians (20-4) have one decided advantage — size. Preston’s frontcourt stands 6-5, 6-5 and 6-7, posing matchup problems for nearly everyone in the tournament. Junior center Brayden Parker leads the group and is the key to the Indians’ chance of a repeat.

THE CONTENDER

BISHOP KELLY: The Knights (19-4) stand on the opposite end of the spectrum. Bishop Kelly will start five guards and push the pace to 100 mph to wear out bigger teams. If BK can hold its own on the boards, it is loaded with shooters who can light up the scoreboard and have plenty of big-game experience after finishing second two years in a row.

THE DARK HORSE

VALLIVUE: The Falcons (18-7) took the long road to state after having two senior starters ejected and suspended in a district semifinal loss to Bishop Kelly. Vallivue survived one elimination game without them and then clinched a bid in a winner-to-state, loser-out game. It enters state battled tested, with a chip on its shoulder and fielding one of the state’s top shooters in Nick Fitts (17.4 ppg).

CLASS 3A

THE FAVORITE

WEISER: The predetermined tournament draw didn’t do the No. 1-ranked Wolverines (21-1) any favors, with the top four teams all on the bottom half of the bracket. Weiser enters on a 13-game winning streak and features two dynamic players in Alberto Sanchez (17.6 ppg) and Bridger Bumgarner (14.8 ppg, 7.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists).

THE CONTENDER

SNAKE RIVER: Winners of 14 of their past 15 games, the third-ranked Panthers (17-3) open with No. 1 Weiser. Junior post Clancy Thomas, a 6-6 first-team All-Idaho pick last year, gives them a weapon inside few can match. And with five titles under his belt, Snake River’s Bob Coombs is one of the most decorated coaches in state history.

THE DARK HORSE

SUGAR-SALEM: Back-to-back victories over Shelley for the eastern Idaho district title earned the Diggers (17-5) a spot on the easier side of the bracket, where no other team is more than five games above .500.

CLASS 2A

THE FAVORITE

RIRIE: The Bulldogs (22-2) ended Firth’s 10-year reign as district champs in eastern Idaho and look to win their first state title since 1990. Michael Ure, a 6-6 sophomore forward, gives Ririe an advantage inside, averaging 13.3 points and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 63.6 percent.

THE CONTENDER

BEAR LAKE: The Bears (20-4) enter state on a 13-game winning streak, cruising undefeated through the always tough District Five. They and Firth are the only two teams to beat top-ranked Ririe.

THE DARK HORSE

FIRTH: The Cougars (16-10), winners of three straight state championships and seven of the last 10, are 5-6 in their last 11 games. But never count out the Cougars and coach Scott Adams, who is tied with Elliott Anderson for the most boys basketball titles in Idaho history (seven).

CLASS 1A DIVISION I

THE FAVORITE

LAPWAI: Only a one-point loss to Prairie in the district championship kept the Wildcats (21-1) from entering state undefeated. After finishing second the past two years, Lapwai is looking to break through behind two returning All-Idaho picks — Emmit Taylor (first team) and Ivory Miles-Williams (second team).

THE CONTENDER

PRAIRIE: Not only are the Pirates (18-4) the lone team to knock off Lapwai, they are the only team to stay within single digits of the Wildcats. The duo of Patrick Chmelik and Hunter Chaffee will be key for Prairie to win its third title in four years.

THE DARK HORSE

AMBROSE: The Archers (18-5) enter state having won 14 of their last 16 games with the only losses coming to Lapwai, the No. 1 1A Division I team, and Dietrich, the No. 1 1A Division II team. Ambrose will rely on a balanced lineup led by Ethan Christianson (19.6 ppg) in its title defense.

CLASS 1A DIVISION II

THE FAVORITE

DIETRICH: The Blue Devils (22-1), the defending state champs, spent the entire season ranked No. 1 and enter on a 16-game winning streak. Dietrich loves to get out and run with reigning All-Idaho player of the year Garrett Astle, outscoring opponents by 24.7 points per game and topping 65 points 16 times.

THE CONTENDER

GENESIS PREP: After taking third last season in its first year as a full IHSAA member, the Jaguars (18-4) eye a bigger trophy. The Post Falls-based school challenged itself in the nonconference schedule, going 3-1 in Arizona against schools it would play in Idaho’s 5A classification.

THE DARK HORSE

ROCKLAND: The Bulldogs (16-6) haven’t lost to a 1A Division II opponent this season, cruising undefeated through their league. The defending consolation champ leans on junior Spencer Permann, a reigning second-team All-Idaho selection.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

Title towns

Schools with the most boys basketball state titles, according to IHSAA records dating to 1917.

School

Titles

Borah

11

Moscow

11

Idaho Falls

10

Pocatello

10

Rigby

10

Lapwai

8

Madison

8

Snake River

8

Firth

8

Coeur d’Alene

7

Teton

7

Preston

7

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