The Rocky Mountain and Borah boys basketball teams already have battled three times this season. But the fourth meeting is the one that matters most.
Two weeks after topping Borah in the district semifinals, defending state champ Rocky Mountain (22-3) will take on the Lions (21-3) in a 5A state tournament semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Friday at the Ford Idaho Center.
“We’ve got our hands full tomorrow,” said Borah coach Jeremy Dennis, whose team is 1-2 vs. the Grizzlies this year. “Both teams know each other, so there are probably not going to be any surprises.”
The second semifinal pits Post Falls (19-5) against Hillcrest (20-5) at 8 p.m. at the Idaho Center. Both knocked off Southern Idaho Conference teams in the first round.
BORAH 44, MADISON 39
Borah’s Austin Bolt said it simply.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world when you lose,” he said. “Even if you know you’re going to lose, I still hate losing.”
The sophomore forward made sure the Lions didn’t Thursday, racking up 17 points and 15 rebounds, then carrying the Lions on his back in the closing moments.
Nursing a one-point lead in the final 20 seconds, Bolt blocked a potential game-winning shot, then scrambled to force a jump ball. When Madison retained possession and missed another possible game-winner, Bolt battled all the way to the floor for the rebound, drawing a foul.
Bolt drained two free throws with 15.8 seconds left to push the lead to three, then he dove to the floor again for a steal with 7.1 seconds left.
After DeVaughn Williams sank two more free throws to stretch the lead to five and put the game away, Bolt stole the inbounds pass for good measure, drawing a bloody lip.
“The kid is special,” Dennis said. “He just willed us to win at the end there, doing the little things, getting rebounds, making the free throws. He’s hard to explain. He’s just good.”
Borah led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter only to watch Madison rally and take a 39-35 lead with 3:47 left. But thanks to Bolt and their defensive pressure, the Lions held Madison scoreless the rest of the way.
Jay Ahlstrom scored seven points, and DeVaughn Williams and Ellis Magnuson each added six points for Borah.
Spencer Hathaway scored eight points for Madison (19-4), which faces Boise (22-4) in a loser-out game at 1:15 p.m. Friday at the Idaho Center.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 53, BOISE 45
Garrett Hall entered the season penciled into Rocky Mountain’s starting lineup. But a broken foot the first week of practice sidelined him the majority of the season, and he didn’t return to 100 percent until the district tournament.
The 6-foot-4 senior guard made up for lost time Thursday, erupting for 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Grizzlies’ first-round victory at state.
“Garrett is an athletic freak,” Rocky Mountain senior guard Hunter Ranstrom said. “... Coming into the season, we knew Garrett was going to be that guy for us. To have him back at this time, it’s really brought our team along and got us going in the right direction.”
Ranstrom scored a game-high 15 points, and Brayden Hamilton finished with nine points and eight rebounds. But the Grizzlies advanced to the semifinals on the strength of their physical defense.
The 5A classification’s No. 1 defense held the No. 1 offense to 45 points, Boise’s second-lowest output of the season, and 18-for-52 (35 percent) shooting.
Rocky Mountain swarmed Boise point guard Paul Pennington with its deep rotation of long, athletic guards, holding Pennington to three points on 1-for-13 shooting. Pennington also had eight rebounds and six assists.
“Today was all about defense,” Rocky Mountain coach Dane Roy said. “Our defensive intensity, the way we played together as a team, was awesome. Offensively, it was not even our ‘B’ game. But that’s the beauty of our team. We hang our hat on the defensive end.”
Trevor Tatko scored 12 points, Lucas Centeno added 10 and Evan Massie finished with 10 for Boise.
POST FALLS 56, CENTENNIAL 38
Post Falls never forgot.
An upset loss to Centennial in last year’s semifinals fueled the Trojans’ workouts all offseason. And Post Falls got a bit of revenge by cruising to a first-round victory over the Patriots.
“Last year we had an opportunity, and we didn’t grasp it,” Post Falls coach Mike McLean said. “That’s something we’ve talked about all season long.”
The Trojans won the opening tipoff and never looked back, shooting 53 percent from the floor and leading throughout the game.
Senior guard Jacob Pfennigs, who has signed to pitch for No. 1 Oregon State, racked up game highs in points, 21, and rebounds, 10. Tanner McCliment Call added 17 points, and sophomore Colby Gennett scored 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting.
Logan Drace led Centennial with 13 points, while Parker Martens added eight points. The Patriots (11-15) will face Mountain View (15-9) in a loser-out game at 3 p.m. Friday at the Idaho Center.
HILLCREST 76, MOUNTAIN VIEW 67
Making the first 5A state tournament appearance in program history, Hillcrest pulled out its first 5A state tournament victory.
The Knights took the final of 15 lead changes when Trey Johnson drained a 3-pointer with 7:14 left in the fourth quarter, then held off a late Mountain View charge by sinking 6-of-8 free throws in the final 2 minutes.
“We came over here to make a statement, and we came over here to play as hard as we could and see what happens,” Hillcrest coach Dave Austin said. “Right now, good things are happening for us.”
Four players reached double figures for both teams. Derek Marlowe poured in a game-high 22 points for Hillcrest, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
“The guy is just as cool as a cucumber,” Austin said of Marlowe. “He just has it in him to take over games when need be.”
College of Idaho signee Jalen Galloway led Mountain View with 20 points, and Cooper Anderson added 16.