Boys High School Basketball

An even dozen: Idaho’s top boys basketball program wins its 12th state championship

Highlights: Borah wins the 5A state basketball title

The Borah High boys basketball team beat Madison 62-50 to win the 5A state championship, a record 12th in program history.
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The Borah High boys basketball team beat Madison 62-50 to win the 5A state championship, a record 12th in program history.

Borah left no doubt Saturday.

The Lions blew through the 5A boys basketball state tournament, clinching the title with a 62-50 win over Madison in the championship game at the Ford Idaho Center.

The win avenged an early-season loss to Madison and marked Borah’s 16th consecutive victory, including three straight at the state tournament by double digits. It also brings a 12th championship banner to Borah (24-3), the most for any boys basketball program in Idaho history.

“This was something we’ve been working for,” Borah senior guard Kyler Castro said. “I remember when I was little, playing in my backyard and picturing me in the state championship. Now to get here and to win it, it means a lot to me. It means the world.”

[Related: Fruitland knocked off after dramatic season; Vander Esch record falls]

Borah wasted little time putting Madison (25-4) on its back Saturday, finishing the first quarter on a 13-2 run to build an eight-point lead. That followed a 16-0, first-quarter run in the opening round against Capital and a 17-0, second-quarter burst against Rigby in the semifinals that put both games away.

“We’ve got shooters. We’ve got people who can attack,” Borah senior point guard Ellis Magnuson said. “Everyone has got the green light.”

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Borah senior Caleb Golden and the Lions celebrate winning the state 5A boys basketball championship Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

Borah stretched the lead to 15 entering the fourth quarter before Madison cut it to five with 2:13 left. But the Lions sank 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch to hang 62 points on 5A’s top defense (44.4 ppg) and bring home their first championship since 2013.

Magnuson, an Eastern Washington commit, spearheaded the Lions’ lethal early run and fastbreak attack again. He poured in a team-high 22 points but made his largest impact pushing the tempo, dishing out six highlight-reel assists and steadying the Lions as Madison made a late charge.

“He’s like a coach out there,” Borah coach Jeremy Dennis said. “He’s an extremely smart basketball player. He just calms everyone down. He’s a heck of a player. He’s unbelievable.”

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Borah seniors Kyler Castro, center, and Caleb Golden admire the state 5A boys basketball trophy as they are announced as champions Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

The title helps seal Magnuson’s legacy as one of the best players in school history. He earned a letter his freshman season, then started his final three years. Dennis said he could only remember one previous player to finish as a four-year letter winner -- Isaiah Wright, a two-time Gatorade state player of the year winner on Borah’s last title team.

“When it comes to the basketball court, he just turns on a whole other zone, and it’s the best to play with him,” Castro said. “When he’s on the court, you just feel comfortable. You feel like everything will go right because he’s on the court.”

Madison shot a blistering 51 percent from the floor to keep from getting blown out. But the Lions owned the boards to limit the Bobcats to one-and-done possessions. Borah finished with a 31-17 edge in rebounds, including 14-3 in offensive rebounds.

Junior forward Austin Bolt did most of the dirty work with eight points and 14 rebounds on an off shooting night (3-for-10). Castro and Isaac Dewberry each added nine points, and Biggie Bergersen chipped in eight points.

“They were tough,” Dennis said of his team. “We weren’t the tallest. We are pretty small by most standards. This is a group of kids that has put in the time and made basketball a priority. It shows you their desire to succeed. You don’t have to be the most talented, but you have to have heart.”

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Borah seniors Ellis Magnuson and Caleb Golden hug at midcourt as starters head for the bench with the game in hand against Madison in the state 5A boys basketball championship Saturday, March 2, 2019 at Ford Idaho Center in Nampa. Darin Oswald doswald@idahostatesman.com

4A: IDAHO FALLS KNOCKS OFF THREE-TIME CHAMP

Idaho Falls entered the state tournament with few, if any, outside expectations. But the Tigers (20-5) upset three-time state champ Preston 66-57 in overtime to win its first state title since 1988 and 11th overall.

It was also Idaho Falls’ first tournament trophy of any kind since 1999.

“We wanted this matchup,” Idaho Falls senior guard Kalvin Bowen said. “We knew we could dethrone them.”

Preston (24-3) trailed the entire second half and fell down by as many as nine points in the third quarter. But the Indians rallied to force overtime.

Bowen iced the game from there, scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points in overtime. Bowen got to the rim at will, sinking 13-of-17 free throws, including 8-of-10 in overtime. He also set a 4A state tournament record by making 28 free throws.

Idaho Falls dominated the boards, outrebounding Preston 43-24. Paul Wilson, a 6-10 senior, led the way inside, finishing with 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Braxton Ball, a 6-6 senior, added eight points and 12 rebounds.

Michael Lycklama has covered Idaho high school sports since 2007. He’s won national awards for his work uncovering the stories of the Treasure Valley’s best athletes and investigating behind-the-scenes trends.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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