Boys High School Basketball

‘It’s unbelievable.’ Believe it — Rocky Mountain repeats as state basketball champs

Rocky Mountain celebrates back-to-back state basketball titles

The Rocky Mountain High boys basketball team rallied to beat Hillcrest 59-51 in overtime and win its second straight Idaho 5A state championship.
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The Rocky Mountain High boys basketball team rallied to beat Hillcrest 59-51 in overtime and win its second straight Idaho 5A state championship.

Rocky Mountain’s Hunter Ranstrom wasn’t having any premature celebration.

After trailing nearly the entire game and mounting a late comeback, the senior guard waved off chants of “back to back” from the Grizzlies’ student section with 10.2 seconds left in overtime.

He wasn’t taking any chances.

But as Ranstrom dribbled out the clock on a 59-51 victory in overtime, he chucked the ball into the rafters at the Ford Idaho Center to set off a court storming as the Grizzlies repeated as the 5A boys basketball state champions.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Ranstrom said. “To be able to do it two years in a row is really hard. It’s unbelievable, but we knew we could do it.”

[Related: Full state tournament brackets, scores in all six classifications]

Rocky Mountain (24-3) took the game’s opening lead at 3-0 when Briggs Ranstrom drained a 3-pointer. But the Grizzlies struggled to find their shot from there, making just 3-of-20 3-pointers entering the fourth quarter.

Rocky Mountain trailed by eight points at halftime and six entering the fourth. But the Grizzlies’ defense locked in for the final 12 minutes, forcing six fourth-quarter turnovers to take their second lead of the game at 48-47 with 1:47 left.

“Throughout this whole tournament, we keep telling ourselves we’re not losing,” Rocky Mountain senior Tyler O’Donnell said. “That’s what it was. We just didn’t want to lose, and we did what we had to do.”

Hillcrest (21-6) forced overtime when Derek Marlowe, who poured in a game-high 27 points, drove for a layup. But Hunter Ranstrom shook off a poor shooting night by draining a 22-foot 3-pointer to start the extra frame. The Grizzlies sank 9-of-10 free throws and held Hillcrest to two points in overtime to keep the Knights at bay and complete the rally.

Rocky Mountain coach Dane Roy was at a loss for words to describe his team’s late comeback.

“I have no idea,” Roy admitted. “Our kids play with so much heart and so much grit that they would just not let us lose.

“We kept switching offenses, we’d put a new defense on them and try some new things. But when it came down to it, our big players made big plays in big situations.”

O’Donnell led Rocky Mountain with 16 points. Hunter Ranstrom added 12 points and three assists, while Garrett Hall scored 10 and Brayden Hamilton finished with seven points and 11 rebounds.

Rocky Mountain entered the year with few outside expectations after heavy graduation losses, including current BYU center Kolby Lee. But the Grizzlies closed the year on a 16-game winning streak to become the first team to repeat as 5A state champions since Borah went back to back in 2012 and 2013.

“Last year, we didn’t have to quite earn it as much,” Hunter Ranstrom said. “… This one was a lot more of a thrill. This one definitely ranks higher.”

BORAH TAKES THIRD: The Lions (22-4) bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to Rocky Mountain in the semifinals to win their sixth state tournament trophy in nine years with a 62-56 victory over Post Falls.

Borah sophomore forward Austin Bolt erupted for 28 points on 11-for-15 shooting, adding eight rebounds and three blocks. Junior point guard Ellis Magnuson finished with 12 points and five assists.

Post Falls (19-7) senior forward Jacob Pfennigs wrapped up his career with 23 points and 13 rebounds.

CLASS 4A

PRESTON MAKES HISTORY: The Indians became the 11th team in Idaho history and first at the 4A level to win three straight state titles with a 61-56 win over Burley.

Preston (26-0) has played with a target on its back for three straight years, but senior point guard Derek Wadsworth said the Indians embraced it.

“That big, old target has helped us because night in and night out, we’ve known teams are going to come for us,” Wadsworth said. “We’ve known they are going to battle, and it’s helped us to play harder and come together as a team.”

Wadsworth led Preston with 19 points and nine assists, and Idaho State commit Brayden Parker added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Preston ended the season on a 30-game winning streak and is the first Idaho team to finish a season undefeated since Capital went 26-0 at the 5A level in 2013-14.

The championship adds another title to the Jones family mantle. It’s the third for Preston coach Tyler Jones. His older brother Justin Jones has won three with Rigby. And their father, Terry Jones, ranks third in state history with six championships at Malad.

[Class 3A: Fruitland wins title]

CLASS 2A

BEAR LAKE CROWNED AGAIN: Bear Lake (23-4) edged Ririe in the finals for the second straight year, beating the Bulldogs 68-60.

Defending state player of the year Avery Carlsen led Bear Lake with 25 points and three assists, and Troy Shaul added 16 points. Ririe’s 6-7 junior forward Michael Ure racked up 26 points and nine rebounds.

CLASS 1A DIVISION I

LAPWAI GOES BACK TO BACK: Making its fourth straight appearance in the championship, Lapwai routed Valley 68-46 to win its second straight title and 10th in program history.

Kendall Leighton led Lapwai (22-3) with 22 points, and Emmit Taylor III added 18. Zane Mussman topped Valley (19-6) with 22 points and 14 rebounds.

Ethan Christianson finished the tournament with 120 points in three games for Ambrose, which lost in the third-place game.

CLASS 1A DIVISION II

GENESIS PREP REPEATS: Reigning state player of the year Jonny Hillam scored 21 points and added five steals and three blocks as Genesis Prep beat Carey 59-33 to win back-to-back state titles.

The Jaguars (22-4) jumped out to a 16-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.

COUNCIL EARNS TROPHY: Brett Rosengrant (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Garrett Snider (11 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles as Council (20-5) edged Deary 47-39 in the consolation championship.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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