Two 5A state tournament semifinals with eerily similar finishes kicked Treasure Valley boys basketball fans in the gut Friday night at the Ford Idaho Center.
But it was an amazing day if you’re an eastern Idaho fan.
Madison and Highland each led just once in the first quarter, then won on last-second shots to set up a state championship showdown between the District Five-Six rivals.
The classification’s two longest tenured coaches — Bill Hawkins of Madison (28th season) and Chris Frost of Highland (26th season) — will pit their teams against one another for the fourth time this season. The title game tips off at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Two of those games were decided by one point, and Madison has won the last two after Highland took the first meeting 55-54 on Jan. 20.
“Billy and I talk. Let’s go meet in the championship, so we’ll see,” Frost said. “We don’t have to really prepare. We know each other.”
If the teams’ most recent meeting is any indication of the potential drama in store Saturday, keep an eye on those mascots. A capped Madison fan got into an on-court altercation with Highland’s Ram during Madison’s district championship win over Highland on Feb. 23. The fight caused fans to storm the court, and the video went viral on the internet.
HIGHLAND 54, CENTENNIAL 53
Down by one with 20 seconds left, Highland wanted to get the ball in the hands of 6-foot-5 senior Connor Harding, a BYU signee. When the intended play fell apart, senior guard Mason Baker popped out to the elbow and met Braydon West’s pass behind the 3-point line.
Baker launched the shot and watched as the ball swished through the net.
“My immediate reaction was to celebrate, and then I looked up at the clock and there was two seconds left, and I looked down the court to see who had the ball,” Baker said. “Then (Centennial’s Talon) Pinckney launched a three-quarter-court shot, and I just watched it drop. It was crazy.”
Baker’s 3-pointer with four seconds left gave Highland its second lead of the game. The Rams’ only other lead was 3-2 with 6:50 remaining in the first quarter.
“It is a heckuva event for high school basketball in Boise and that,” Frost said. “It’s going to be a good one tomorrow night.”
Baker finished with 17 points and five assists, Harding had 21 points and West 11 points. Highland lost to Post Falls in last year’s title game.
“I have one more shot at it, and I just want to give it my all,” Harding said. “Usually no one gets to the state title game, and I have the opportunity to play in it twice, and hopefully I can come out on top for once.”
Centennial, which had a five-point lead with less than a minute left in the game, will play Borah for third place at noon Saturday at Columbia High in Nampa.
The Patriots were paced by senior guard Taylor Wallick, who went 4-for-8 from 3-point range for 21 points.
MADISON 54, BORAH 53
Zach Anderson’s receiver instincts kicked in at the perfect time.
With his teammate’s potential game-winner off the mark, the Idaho State football signee stormed the key and caught the rebound with an outstretched right hand. Anderson tossed the ball right back at the bucket, where it bounced twice, hung on the rim for a split second and fell in as the final seconds ticked off.
The tip-in was the only basket for the Madison senior, who fell to the floor as teammate Curtis Hathaway ran in for a hug and the Madison crowd went crazy.
Top-seeded Borah walked off the court in disbelief. The Lions led by as many as 13 points and held a six-point advantage with 1:44 to play.
“My heavens, I can’t believe it,” Hawkins said.
Anderson’s hands were still shaking when he exited the locker room 15 minutes later.
“I was just in awe. I’m still in awe,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how that went in.”
While Borah’s defense had Madison struggling to get open looks for most of the night, the Bobcats found daylight in the closing minutes, when point guard DeAndre Jones and junior Max Reitman each picked up their fourth foul. Jones fouled out with 1:57 left, leaving the Lions without their leading ballhandler.
“All I can tell you is the basketball gods were with us. That ball settled on the basket and just rolled in. I mean, you could do that 100 different times and it might not go in,” Hawkins said. “But great effort by our kids. I mean, we’re down in that thing and they just battled back, battled back, battled back.”
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 64, CAPITAL 59
The Grizzlies won the rubber match between the 5A SIC foes as junior post Kolby Lee had 20 points and nine rebounds. Rocky Mountain (18-7) is in position to win its second straight consolation title if it can get past northern champion Lewiston (15-9) at 10 a.m. Saturday at Columbia High in Nampa. Junior guard Justin Saunders scored 17 points to lead Capital (14-14), which rallied back from 16 points down in the final three minutes.
LEWISTON 79, MOUNTAIN VIEW 73
Six-foot-7 junior post Trystan Bradley notched 25 points and 12 rebounds to keep Lewiston’s season alive. Riley Way (18 points) and Braeden Wilson (12 points, 12 rebounds) also reached double digits for the Bengals, who are trying to bring home hardware for the first time since 2009. Mountain View (14-12) was eliminated despite a game-high 33 points and five assists from senior guard Damen Thacker.