The Rocky Mountain High boys basketball team didn’t do much celebrating after its district championship last week.
It was a very different story Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center.
After the Grizzlies toppled rival Centennial 72-51 for the first state championship in program history, junior guard Hunter Ranstrom chucked the basketball in the air, setting off a long overdue celebration.
“I was wondering when it was coming, because they had to have bottled it up somewhere,” Rocky Mountain coach Dane Roy said. “It’s special to see, because these kids worked so hard and were so focused all season long, and I am just so happy for them that they got to have that moment with each other.”
Having settled for the consolation trophy the previous two years, Rocky Mountain’s goal from the outset this season was a state championship.
The Grizzlies rattled off a single-season-record 26 wins and a perfect mark against Idaho teams. Their only loss came in the second game of the season to Timpview (Utah).
“That’s the most celebration we’ve done all season,” senior guard Kobe Terashima said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment.”
Rocky Mountain entered the state tournament on a 22-game winning streak with a No. 2 ranking in the final state media poll. While their first two wins against Bonneville and Lewiston came with relative ease, the Grizzlies watched 5A Southern Idaho Conference foe Centennial collect back-to-back upsets on the opposite side of the bracket to set up a fourth meeting between the programs.
The Patriots (17-11) surprised top-seeded Madison in the first round, then edged No. 3 Post Falls in overtime for a spot in the title game for the first time since 2011.
The Grizzlies had no intention of being the Patriots’ third upset in as many nights.
“When you’ve played a team three times, it’s kind of a weird feeling to get your mentality right,” Ranstrom said. “But I think we started strong, and that’s what got us through.”
Just as he ushered in the Grizzlies’ post-game celebration, Ranstrom got the Rocky Mountain offense rolling against the Patriots. Ranstrom opened the championship scoring with a 3-pointer on the Grizzlies’ first possession. It was the first of eight Rocky Mountain 3s in the title game and 27 for the tournament.
The outside range proved the perfect complement to the interior dominance of 6-foot-10 BYU signee Kolby Lee, who finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
“They truly did not care who got the credit. They didn’t care,” Roy said. “They shared the ball. They were unselfish all season long. We had so much talent, but until they came together as a team, they weren’t going to win a state championship.
“They bought in from the start, and they are truly best friends off the court.”
Terashima led all scorers with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Tyler O’Donnell (13 points) and Ranstrom (12 points) also reached double figures. Every player on the Grizzlies’ bench saw time in the championship game.
“Everyone contributed, whether it was a rebound, a steal, an assist or getting a bucket,” Ranstrom said. “It was a fun feeling to have everyone contribute in a state championship like that.”
Saturday’s title was also the first for Roy, but hardly the first in the Roy family. Roy’s father, Emery, is the winningest girls basketball coach in Idaho history with nine state titles, and he has five more in golf.
“I am so proud of my dad and what he has achieved. I will never reach those heights, but it’s special, man,” Dane Roy said. “I am ridiculously proud of my dad, and I know he’s proud of me, and he said it after the game. We gave each other a hug. It’s special. State is crazy hard to win.”