BOISE — With a state tournament bid on the line, the Bishop Kelly Knights stood toe to toe against the Skyview Hawks in what would live up to the bill as the 4A District III Championship game took court at Idaho Central Arena.
The Knights survived a late surge from Skyview to win 52-49 on Thursday and capture their second straight district title.
As the opportunity dangled in front of the Knights to repeat as District Champions, they took the game by storm and showcased their dangerous shooting abilities from behind in the arch with a dominant 11-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The 8-0 run that the Knights pieced together ended at the beginning of the second quarter, but the reigning District Champions would not lose sight of their mission by continuing to add pressure on both sides of ball. The contest between the No. 1 and 2 seeds would get a little feisty with a technical called against Skyview minutes before the two teams would head back to the locker rooms for halftime, with Bishop Kelly up 26-15.
The Knights continued their control over the contest throughout the third quarter by continuing to add to their impressive display of three-point field goals. This display made it seem wrapped up for Bishop Kelly as it clung to a 40-31 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Just when Bishop Kelly had their sights set on back-to-back District Titles, the Hawks thought they would make a strong bid for a comeback. The squad from Skyview would show their resiliency and fight as they came to play for their rights to qualify for the state tournament. With a flurry of transition layups and momentous three pointers, the Hawks fought their way back into the contest late in the fourth quarter.
The Knight’s lead shrank down to just one point with under two minutes left, but their perseverance and great leadership would allow them to hold on for victory.
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“Winning it and being a team. We’re all committed to staying together. We always say we want to get better every day,” said guard, Joseph Behrend on the team’s ability to spreading the floor offensively and finding the best way to share the ball.
The scoring pursuit put on by the Knights was led by the senior duo of Joseph Behrend and Thomas Lodge. The pair would combine for a total of 28 points that would push Bishop Kelly past Skyview to secure of the victory between the top two seeds in Thursday night’s matchup.
“We are excited and thankful to have the group we have and you know, we believe in ourselves,” said Lodge. “We just Keep working every day and trying to play our best basketball. Winning the district championship is just so awesome.”
Thursday night’s win continued the Knight’s win streak as they gathered their ninth consecutive victory.
This is quite a turnaround for the program as they began the season with a 1-7 record after an excruciating non-conference schedule.
“The purpose was to play against good teams and see how good we could be,” coach Ryan Kerns said on how the difficult nonconference schedule allowed them to prepare for the run they are on now. “Then after that just reset for the conference season and really try to go on and work from there.”
Bishop Kelly will advance to the 4A state tournament that tips off next week at Rocky Mountain High in Meridian, while Skyview will have another chance to punch their ticket to state with a play-in game against Ridgeview this Saturday.