Tigers sprint to district title

Feb. 23—LAPWAI — If there was a dictionary describing all the qualities of Kendrick high school athletics, "complacent" would not be one of them.

The defending Idaho Class 1A Division II boys basketball state champions took the next step to defending their crown and punched their ticket to the state tournament with a 61-28 win against the Deary Mustangs in a district championship game on Thursday night.

Through the first half, the Mustangs looked to have a chance to make the game more competitive than they had in two prior meetings with the Tigers this season, but a third-quarter sprint from Kendrick ended up securing its third straight district title.

"(The key in the state tournament) is going to be staying focused," Tigers coach Tim Silflow said. "Going one game at a time, not looking too far ahead and just preparation. There's some great teams in the state — they play fast and we're just going to have to be very disciplined and just play our game. We've got to go into that tournament remembering we are the defending state champions."

Here's how Thursday's district championship game played out:

Mustangs make a go at it

Deary (12-9) wasn't able to find an answer for the fast-break offense of Kendrick (19-4) to begin the game.

The Tigers and Mustangs matched each other with dual man-to-man defenses and Kendrick had the advantage.

The Tigers created multiple turnovers in the first quarter and went straight to the paint in transition to create several fast-break buckets. This resulted in a 22-9 lead for the defending champs at the end of one quarter.

Deary had to find a way to stop the Tigers' offense without one of its best players. Wyatt Vincent suffered an injury to his leg that was already in a brace with 4:46 left in the first quarter.

The Mustangs in the second quarter didn't find an answer to Kendrick's offense, per se, but they were very close.

Senior big man Lakye Taylor entered the game off the bench toward the end of the first quarter and his presence helped Deary's defense in a big way.

The Mustangs opted for a zone defense in the second and the 6-foot-11 Taylor manned the zone inside the key. The rest of the four on the floor made sure to get back in transition and the Tigers' offense slowed down, resulting in a 7-2 run for Deary and Kendrick's lead cut down to 24-16 with 5:22 left in the first half.

The run didn't last for the Mustangs and the Tigers finished the last five-plus minutes of the half on a 7-2 run before outscoring Deary 25-8 in the third to go into the fourth quarter with a 30-point lead. The third quarter was highlighted with two emphatic dunks from Kendrick's Nathan Tweit and Ralli Roetcisoender.

"(Kendrick) is the best team in the state of Idaho," Mustangs coach Jalen Kirk said. "They're the best team at our level. They run the floor extremely well. ... We hung on as long as we could.

"Sadly, we lost one of our better guys as well. But, it sounds crazy, but I did think our guys played OK. It's just — as the game goes on we get tired and Kendrick capitalized and they ran up and down the floor and they finished (shots). ... I do believe when the night is right we can play with them. Tonight just wasn't that night."

Season continues

The Tigers' trip to the Idaho Class 1A Division II state tournament from Feb. 29-March 2 at Caldwell High School is secured. They will play against a to-be-determined team at a to-be-determined time.

"Garden Valley, for sure is having a good year," Silflow said when going over potential quality opponents in the state tournament. "A team not to sleep on is Cascade. We played them in the first round last year. ... And they were tough. They're a good team. And Camas County. ... They've got some good athletes."

The Mustangs will have another chance to punch their ticket to the state tournament today at 6 p.m. against Highland of Craigmont at Lapwai High School.

Deary has played the Huskies three times this season and are 2-1. Two of those games were decided by single digits.

"(Highland's) humongous," Kirk said. "They're giant. We've got to find a way to rebound the ball and I'm hoping that we can get a little bit out in transition. We do have a more guard-like team than they have but they're size is detrimental (to us). ... But the key is going to be rebounding the ball."

Players of the game

Hunter Taylor, Tweit and Roetcisoender finished with 13, 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Kendrick. Roetcisoender added five assists and four steals and Cade Silflow added nine points and four steals.

Tucker Ashmead led the Mustangs with nine points on three field goals and a 2-of-3 mark from the free-throw line.

DEARY (12-9)

Lathan Proctor 2 0-0 5, Nolan Hubbard 0 0-0 0, Wyatt Vincent 0 0-0 0, Blaine Clark 2 2-5 7, TJ Beyer 0 0-0 0, Jacob Meechling 0 0-0 0, Mason Leonard 0 0-0 0, Tucker Ashmead 3 2-3 9, Dallen Stapleton 1 0-0 2, Gabe Johnson 0 0-0 0, Blake Clark 0 0-0 0, Lakye Taylor 2 1-2 5. Totals 10 5-10 28


Lane Clemenhagen 1 0-0 2, Ralli Roetcisoender 5 0-0 10, Nathan Kimberling 0 0-0 0, Nathan Tweit 5 2-2 12, Wyatt Cook 3 0-0 6, Hunter Taylor 5 2-2 13, Mason Kimberling 0 0-0 0, Kolt Koepp 0 0-0 0, Maddox Kirkland 0 0-0 0, Carson Hogan 0 0-0 0, Anthony Lewis 0 0-0 0, Ty Koepp 3 0-0 6, Cade Silflow 4 1-2 9, Landon Sneve 0 0-0 0, Dallas Morgan 1 1-2 3. Totals 27 6-8 61.

Deary 9 9 8 2—28

Kendrick 22 9 25 5—61

3-point goals — Proctor, Clark, Ashmead, Taylor.

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