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Tigers claw back against Wolverines

Mar. 2—After Kendrick's district tournament win against Deary on Feb. 22, coach Tim Silflow said that, ahead of tough competition in the Idaho Class 1A Division II state tournament, the team needed to "remember that it's the defending state champions."

Down 10 points early in the third, the Tigers did just that.

Kendrick completed a comeback and defeated the Garden Valley Wolverines 71-58 in a state tournament semifinal game Friday at Caldwell High School.

The Wolverines proved to be a challenge for the defending champions, but the Tigers' experience won out and ensured that they will be in a position to defend their state crown.

"I think (experience) is so important. It's a different atmosphere down here," Silflow said. "There's a lot of pressure. Playing game after game is really tough and having that experience is huge."

Here's how Friday's semifinal game played out:

Wolverines pull ahead early

Kendrick (21-4) started the game with a 6-3 advantage, but noticeably wasn't able to execute its trademark fast-break offense aside from its second possession.

Garden Valley (22-3) took advantage and, using a box-and-one defense and a full-court press, was able to force several early turnovers to erase the early deficit. By the end of the first quarter, the Wolverines had a 16-11 lead.

That kickstarted a tug-of-war between the two teams. The Tigers were able to get the game within one possession or tie on a couple of occasions. But, without their fast-break offense and the ability to play at an uptempo pace, Garden Valley kept the champs at arms length by two or three possessions in the first half.

Kendrick started the second half by committing four turnovers in the first two minutes and the Wolverines capitalized.

Garden Valley's Maxon Yearsley, who left the game in the first quarter due to a collision that knocked the wind out of him, returned in the second half and knocked down three 3-pointers in five possessions. This helped give the Wolverines their first double-digit lead at 39-29 with 5:50 left in the third.

"I don't know if it was (Garden Valley's) size so much as their guards doing a really good job," Silflow said. "I can't quite get a grasp at what happened in that first half other than we just weren't playing our style. Garden Valley's a good basketball team. ... I think they just made us a little bit uncomfortable."

The Tigers were in an unusual position for them this season: playing from behind and having another team dictate the flow of the game.

Kendrick started to play safer and more methodical. With this approach, the Tigers started to chip away at Garden Valley's lead and outscored the Wolverines 16-5 the rest of the quarter to go into the fourth with a 45-44 lead.

Sophomore Nathan Tweit and senior Ty Koepp were the main engines of Kendrick's second-half run. They both finished the game with double-doubles. Tweit had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Koepp had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Koepp's vocal leadership was also a factor in his team's comeback. The four-time state champion (football and basketball) gave his team motivational talks at halftime and in the third quarter to help it get back into the game, Silflow said.

Kendrick closes the game strong

With the lead and all the momentum on their side, the Tigers started to crank the tempo back up in the fourth and found success in their fast-break and transition offense that had been absent since the opening quarter.

Kendrick outscored Garden Valley 26-14 in the final eight minutes to secure the 13-point win.

The Tigers, two days into the state tournament, have already completed a blowout win against the Deary Mustangs on Thursday and a come-from-behind victory against Garden Valley on Friday.

Having been successful in several different situations, a battle-tested Kendrick will now go into today's state championship game with even more confidence — a dangerous thing for a defending champion to have.

The Tigers will play the Camas County Mushers in the state championship game at 8:30 a.m. today at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

The game will be a rematch of the 1A DII football championship last fall.

"There's definitely going to be some emotions there from that football game," Silflow said. "(Camas County) is going to want to get back at us for beating them at football and our boys are going to want to make sure they get the sweep against them in both sports. I think it's going to make for an interesting story and a very, very competitive game."

GARDEN VALLEY (22-3)

Tacoma Kelly 2 0-0 4, Maxon Yearsley 5 0-0 14, Madix Miller 6 4-5 18, Rex Fackrell 0 0-0 0, Thomas Knuteson 0 0-0 0, Trustin Brown 0 0-2 0, Zade Thompson 2 2-2 7, Trevor Corn 5 1-5 13, Conor Ross 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 7-14 58.

KENDRICK (21-4)

Lane Clemenhagen 0 1-2 1, Ralli Roetcisoender 2 4-6 8, Nathan Tweit 11 0-0 22, Wyatt Cook 0 1-2 1, Mason Kimberling 0 0-0 0, Ty Koepp 6 2-5 17, Cade Silflow 1 2-3 4, Dallas Morgan 1 2-2 4. Totals 27 12-20 71.

Garden Valley 16 13 15 14—58

Kendrick 11 16 18 26—71

3-point goals — Yearsley 4, Miller 2, Corn 2, Thompson, Koepp 3, Taylor 2.

Kowatsch can be contacted at 208-848-2268, tkowatsch@lmtribune.com or on Twitter @Teren_Kowatsch.