Boys High School Basketball

Bishop Kelly advances to 4A state boys basketball semifinals by a fingernail

Blocked 3 lifts Bishop Kelly boys basketball into 4A semifinals

Bishop Kelly's Jacob Russell broke out on a potential game-winning 3-pointer and got a finger on it for his first block of the season. The block at the buzzer secured the Knights a 52-50 victory over Rigby and a spot in the 4A semifinals.
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Bishop Kelly's Jacob Russell broke out on a potential game-winning 3-pointer and got a finger on it for his first block of the season. The block at the buzzer secured the Knights a 52-50 victory over Rigby and a spot in the 4A semifinals.

Two overtimes. A block on a game-winning 3-pointer. A game-tying 3-pointer that fell short.

The first round of the 4A high school boys basketball state tournament Thursday at Borah High had it all.

Bishop Kelly (15-5) used the block to advance to the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday, where it will face Minico (21-4), which needed two overtimes to fend off an upset from Caldwell.

No. 1 Preston (20-4) and Burley (17-8) square off in the other semifinal at 6:15 p.m.


Listed at a generous 6-foot, Bishop Kelly’s Jacob Russell hadn’t blocked a shot all season.

Until Thursday.

The junior broke out to the corner and got a finger on a potential game-winning 3-pointer from Rigby’s Connor Geisler, tipping the shot straight up in the air. Both teams batted the ball around as the final second ran off the clock, and the Knights mobbed Russell at center court to celebrate their second straight trip to the semis.

“I looked back, saw triple zeroes on the clock, our team is jumping up and down and saw the refs run off the floor and breathed a sigh of relief,” Russell said. “Like, ‘I’m happy we don’t have to go through that experience again.’ Jumping up and down with the team, it was relief. Really, that was the emotion.”

The block was just the final heroic play for the Bishop Kelly reserve.

Defending state champ Rigby, which beat the Knights for the title last year, held the lead throughout the second and third quarters. A Russell 3-pointer in the left corner with 2:56 left in the fourth cut the lead to one. Then he put his head down, drove into the paint and lofted up a scoop and a prayer that found the bottom of the net with 1:32 left for Bishop Kelly’s first lead since the first quarter.

The Knights’ sixth man finished with eight points. Bishop Kelly coach Ryan Kerns said he’s grown into that role and has come up with big play after big play the past three weeks.

“When you have great ability and you’re not starting, sometimes that’s a mind game you have to play with yourself — accepting your role and being comfortable when you’re on the floor and not deferring to the starting five,” Kerns said. “He’s learned that, and he’s playing with a whole lot of confidence now.”

Bishop Kelly needed him one last time. Rigby took a timeout with 6.2 seconds left down by two under its own basket. Rigby’s Ty Cottle drove the length of the floor, threatened to drive the paint for the layup before kicking it out to Geisler in the corner. But Russell hedged his bet and got just enough of the shot to send the Knights back to the semifinals.


Caldwell’s Sam Briseno sent the game to overtime with a layup. Then Michael Orozco forced double overtime with his own baseline drive in overtime.

But the Cinderella run for Caldwell — which won four elimination games in five days to qualify for state for the first time since 1999 — ran out of magic as Minico mounted a 15-3 run in the second overtime.

“We competed as long as possible,” Caldwell coach Trent Harrison said. “We played a great game. I could not be more proud of our players.”

Minico junior forward Matthew Brumley finished with 30 points on 14-for-17 shooting and 14 rebounds, while teammate Peyton Bailey added 23 points. Forrest Smith led Caldwell (14-13) with 20 points and seven rebounds.


Middleton gave Preston all it could handle for 32 minutes. But the Indians forced Couper Carson into a contested, fadeaway 3-pointer to tie the game, and the shot fell short at the buzzer.

“That’s not where we lost it. We lost it early defensively,” Middleton coach Dale Karst pointed out. “They got an 18-point quarter to start. But I’m proud of how our kids battled back.”

Preston took advantage of its size advantage to jump out to an 18-7 lead after the first quarter. The Vikings (10-14) switched to a full-court, man press in the second quarter, cutting the lead to three by halftime. Middleton hung around throughout the second half, even pulling within two when Kobe Crawford banked in a 3 with 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

But Preston held on to advance to the semifinals for the first time since winning the 3A title in 2004. It beat Middleton in the finals that year.

Kobe Crawford led Middleton, which faces Lakeland (10-13) at 1:15 p.m. Friday in the consolation bracket, with 12 points, and Tyler Wilson added 10 points and six rebounds. Austin Smellie paced Preston with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.


Burley sophomore guard Ryan Bagley — the youngest child of Bobcats coach Jack Bagley — put away the pesky Hawks, starting the fourth quarter on a personal 10-0 run to stretch a five-point lead into a 15-point one.

“One thing with Ryan I’ve noticed since he was a little kid is the bigger the stage, the better he plays,” Jack Bagley said. “So I’ve been looking forward to the state tournament just to see what he’s capable of doing.”

Ryan Bagley scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and 17 in the second half to finish with a game-high 21 points. The Bobcats shook off a slow start to shoot 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from the floor in the second half, including 7-of-10 (70 percent) in the fourth quarter.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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