The nerve endings on Bishop Kelly coach Ryan Kerns were so frayed Friday, he headed back to the wrong locker room. But after another nail biter at the 4A state tournament, it’s hard to blame him.
Bronson King sank a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left in double overtime to end a marathon state semifinal game and lift the Knights into their second straight championship game with a 71-69 victory over Minico.
“It’s just amazing,” junior guard Dan Sabala said. “Every game keeps getting better and better, and it’s more satisfying every single time. It’s unbelievable. I’m still in shock from that game.”
Bishop Kelly (16-5) faces No. 1-ranked Preston (21-4) at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Idaho Center for the title.
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Much like Bishop Kelly’s first-round win — which the Knights clinched on Jacob Russell’s last-second block — Sabala’s free throws were only the final play in a game fit to test pacemakers.
Minico’s Matthew Brumley forced overtime with his drop-step bucket with 32 seconds left in regulation. The Spartans stretched their lead to six with 48 seconds left in the first overtime. But Bishop Kelly senior Philip Warnecke — who played 22 minutes all season before state — cut the lead to one when he stole a pass at midcourt, then tipped in a missed shot with 17.8 to go.
Trailing by three with 14 seconds left, Sabala then forced a second overtime when he coolly pulled up from 25 feet and drained a 3 with 5.1 seconds left.
The battle appeared headed for a third overtime when Minico sophomore Larry Vega sank 1-of-2 free throws with 6.3 seconds left, tying it at 69-69. But Warnecke grabbed the miss and threw an outlet pass to King. The junior guard drew a foul in the backcourt from Peyton Bailey, who immediately dropped to the floor in anguish.
Minico coach Ty Shippen told the (Twin Falls) Times-News he shouted, “Don’t foul.” But in a roaring gym, all Bailey heard was “foul,” and Shippen had to pick up his inconsolable senior off the court.
King stepped to the line and put the game away, just like he did in the district semifinals, when his free throw with 4 seconds lifted the Knights into the championship.
“I just looked back to practice and practicing free throws, and all those days I spent in the gym shooting free throws, getting better,” King said. “I was like, ‘I was going to make these,’ stepped up to the line confident and knocked them down.”
Minico’s full-court heave after the free throws found Tyson Durrant. But his 18-foot tip-in clanked off the iron as the buzzer rang, setting off BK’s celebration.
PRESTON 51, BURLEY 37
The past two years, No. 1-ranked Preston fell one win short of qualifying for state. But after Friday, it’s one win shy of winning its first state title since 2004.
“We’re excited,” Preson senior Austin Smellie said. “But I don’t know if it’s even hit me yet.”
Smellie, the school’s career scoring leader, carried the Indians through the third quarter, scoring nine of his team’s 12 points. Preston had a two-point lead entering the fourth before his teammates got involved. The Indians mounted a 14-0 run to start the quarter and clinch their first trip to the Idaho Center since 2004, when it competed at the 3A level.
MIDDLETON 39, LAKELAND 35
Senior post Reece Robinett poured in a game-high 18 points on 8-for-15 shooting to lead the Vikings to their first state tournament win at the 4A level and first overall since 2004.
Kobe Crawford added seven points, and David Kofoed recorded seven steals as Middleton (11-14) advanced to face Rigby (12-13) at 9:15 a.m. Saturday at Borah High for the consolation title. The Vikings haven’t won a trophy since they were the 3A runners-up in 2004.
RIGBY 45, CALDWELL 43
Caldwell misfired on a running jumper at the buzzer, ending its season and first trip to state since 1999 at 14-14.
George Tarlas led the Cougars with 10 points, while Austin Van Horne added eight points. Braden Boyce paced Rigby with 11 points and seven rebounds.