Nathaniel Vasquez did not celebrate making the only shot he took Thursday. Instead, he just shook his head with a sheepish grin.
A backup sophomore guard, his 3-pointer from 25 feet out with less than 2 minutes remaining was fitting of Skyview High’s offensive dominance.
The last of 12 3s the Hawks made on the day, Vasquez banked it in from beyond the top of the key, part of a 75-42 rout of Moscow at Borah High to open the 4A boys basketball state tournament.
“We were all chuckling, it was pretty funny,” said junior guard Brady Taylor, who rested with the other starters the entire fourth quarter. “... Everybody was involved, everyone was confident.”
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When you’re hot, you’re hot — and the Hawks were on fire.
Taylor drilled three 3-pointers in the first quarter as Skyview (19-6) built a 15-0 lead to open the game, and led by as much as 37. The sharp offense was benefited by a stifling defense that allowed the Hawks to hit open transition shots.
“You can do anything you want Xs and Os-wise, practice-wise, but when the kids make shots like they did, it makes everything seem easy,” Skyview coach Aaron Sanders said.
Even when the offense wasn’t hurtling up the floor to get the open outside looks, Skyview created scoring opportunities. Senior forward Jayson Hibbard was 8-of-9 from the floor, scoring 16 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Senior guard Chris Kielman also had 16 points, and Taylor added 14 for the Hawks, who shot 63.3 percent from the field, including 12-of-19 on 3-pointers.
“We’ve been waiting three years for this experience, we’re not letting it go to waste,” Kielman said. “... Our transition game, that’s our game, and it’s what we were able to do.”
Making their first state tournament appearance since 2014, the Hawks showed no sense of apprehension against Moscow (10-14). And that’s exactly what they will need Friday in the semifinals.
Skyview will face Preston (24-0), which knocked off Twin Falls 50-37 on Thursday. The Indians are the two-time defending 4A champions and beat Skyview 68-54 on Dec. 1 in Nampa.
“I thought we played really solid defensively tonight, and that led to some good opportunities for us on offense,” Sanders said. “We’re going to have to be able to slow them down a bit. ... We’re going to need to shoot the ball well, run our stuff well, defend and battle on the boards.”
Winners of 28 straight, Preston boasts what Sanders praised as a balanced attack, with strong guards complementing senior post Brayden Parker, an Idaho State commit. Parker had six points against Twin Falls (14-12), but guards Derek Wadsworth and Britten Atkinson had 10 assists and 12 points, respectively.
“We’ve just got to punch them in the throat, come out with the same intensity and same energy we did today,” Taylor said.
That begs the question: Is that possible to do two days in a row?
“I think so, yeah,” he said.
CENTURY 67, BISHOP KELLY 57
It was almost a comeback for the ages. Almost.
Behind a dominating defense and clutch rebounding, Century jumped out to a 40-24 halftime lead Thursday. But Bishop Kelly, which had won 12 straight, was undaunted, holding the Diamondbacks to five third-quarter points.
The Knights kept chipping away, getting within three at two different points in the fourth quarter, but Century sealed it by making 11 of 12 free throws.
“We just dug ourselves out of it, we gave ourselves chances to be back in the game, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump,” Bishop Kelly coach Ryan Kerns said. “It makes you a little more proud of the game, makes you believe in what you thought could be the night you were expecting.”
Boise State-bound Max Rice was held to four points in the first half, not scoring his first field goal until the third quarter for the Knights (17-7). He finished with 20 points on 6-of-23 shooting.
Bishop Kelly was held to 34.8 percent shooting in the first half and was outrebounded 22-11.
Century (16-11) had 15 second-chance points in the first half. Rice said the offensive rebounds “murdered us.” The Diamondbacks had five scorers in double figures, led by junior guard Deshun Harwell (16 points). Harwell’s older brother, Malek, plays for Rice’s father, Leon, at Boise State. Senior guard Coleton Adamson had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Century.
“They had a great game plan, they cut off everything we thought we had going for us,” Rice said. “... If we made a couple more shots, I say we could’ve completed the comeback, but it was a little too much to overcome.”
BURLEY 69, VALLIVUE 50
In a rematch of a first-round game last year, the outcome went the other way behind a balanced Burley attack.
The Falcons responded well to the Bobcats’ early inside dominance, leading 16-14 into the second quarter, but Burley broke it open with a 12-2 run to conclude the first half. That continued into the third quarter, as the Bobcats made their first eight shots, keeping the score out of reach.
“They felt like they owed us one,” Vallivue coach Ryan Lundgren said. “You try to take away the 3 and shut down their guards, then their big guys hurt you around the rim. ... They’re a well-balanced team. They battled tonight and they got us.”
Burley (20-4) threw down a half-dozen dunks, with 12 points apiece from forwards Andrew Ferrin and Jackson Hill. They were helped out by 21 points from sophomore guard Jace Whiting and 17 from senior guard Ryan Bagley. The Bobcats shot 56.9 percent (29-of-51).
Vallivue (16-10), which had a dream run to the state championship game last year, falling in overtime to Preston, got 21 points from junior guard Amoro Lado and 11 from senior guard Steele Hadlock.
“First quarter, we played defense really well,” Hadlock said. “... Second half, we just kind of fell apart on defense, kind of got down on each other.”
3A: Fruitland advances
Fruitland (20-4) slipped past defending champion Sugar-Salem 45-42 in the first round to set up a semifinal encounter with Snake River (21-2). Fruitland senior Jacob Richins scored 13 points.
Kimberly (19-5) and Shelley (20-7) will meet in the other semifinal. Mason Price scored 17 points for Shelley in the first round as the Russets topped the Parma Panthers 37-31. Ryan Nielsen grabbed 12 rebounds for Parma.
2A: Treasure Valley skunked
Ririe (21-3) and St. Maries (18-4) will meet in the late semifinal. St. Maries knocked off Nampa Christian 50-39.
Bear Lake (22-3) will play Declo (20-5) in the other semifinal. Houston Preston scored 14 points for Bear Lake vs. North Fremont. Trey Smyer scored 18 points as Declo beat Cole Valley Christian, which got 14 from Jake Couch in the 54-37 loss.
1A Division I: A 42-point outing
Ambrose gave the Treasure Valley a semifinal entry with a 57-55 win against Prairie. Ethan Christianson scored 42 points for the Archers, hitting 14 of 28 field-goal attempts and 12 of 17 free throws. Ambrose led by 19 going into the fourth quarter.
Ambrose (18-7) will play Valley (18-5) in the semifinals. Valley beat Riverstone 59-45.
Walker Coyle led a balanced Riverstone attack with nine points. Zane Mussmann scored 18 for Valley.
Lapwai (20-3) and Grace (17-6) are in the other semifinal.
1A Division II: Genesis Prep rolls
Powerhouse Genesis Prep beat Council 70-37 to advance to the semifinals. Tri-Valley topped Rockland 53-30 on the other side of the bracket. The semifinals feature Carey (20-5) vs. Tri-Valley (19-6) and Genesis Prep (20-4) vs. Dietrich (23-1). Individual stats were not provided from this site.