NAMPA — Hillcrest lived up to the hype, and the defending 4A champions are headed back to the state final after a dominant victory over Skyview on Friday.
Standout junior post Isaac Davis racked up 18 points and 20 rebounds, Talan Taylor added 17 points and the Knights canned 13 3-pointers on their way to an 81-53 victory at the Ford Idaho Center. Hillcrest, which never trailed, has won its two state tournament games by a combined 68 points.
The top-seeded Knights (24-1) advance to play second-seeded Pocatello in Saturday’s 6 p.m. title game. Skyview (19-8) will play Blackfoot for third place at noon at Rocky Mountain High School.
“I’m really proud of how our kids competed,” Skyview coach Aaron Sanders said. “We unfortunately got out to a bit of a slow start. After that, we pushed the tempo better and really started to score, but Hillcrest kept scoring, too, and that’s pretty much what they’ve done all year.”
Senior guards Eloy Chaparro (18 points) and Jonah Wockenfuss (13 points) did their best to keep Skyview afloat, but the Hawks had no answer for the 6-foot-7 Davis inside. Hillcrest outscored Skyview 22-8 in the paint and dominated the glass, winning the rebounding battle 40-23.
And when Skyview sent extra defenders to slow down Davis, Hillcrest’s shooters made them pay. Taylor buried five triples, Matthew Trenkle added three and six different players connected from beyond the arc as the Knights shot 45 percent from deep.
“Once we get going, everyone feeds off it, and it’s so tough to defend when you have four or five guys rolling like that,” Hillcrest coach Dave Austin said.
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Added Sanders: “We were hoping we could double [Davis] a little without giving up too many threes, but they are a very good passing team. Some big men, when the ball gets thrown inside, it never comes back out, but he does a really good job having vision for his teammates.”
Hillcrest blitzed Lakeland in a 40-point first-round blowout, and the Knights kept things rolling early Friday, jumping out to a 19-9 lead after one quarter. The Knights maintained control throughout the half, extending their advantage to 39-20 when Taylor hit a 3 just before the halftime buzzer.
Hillcrest held Skyview to 24 percent shooting in the half, while Davis (10 points, 14 boards) posted a halftime double-double.
Skyview found more success offensively in the second half, but the Hawks never seriously threatened Hillcrest’s double-digit lead. Max Cutforth finished with nine points for Skyview, which did a good job attacking the paint but struggled to finish over the looming threat of Davis. The Hawks shot 33 percent overall.
Kobe Kesler chipped in 14 points for Hillcrest, which now stands one victory away from capturing back-to-back 4A titles.
“Our kids have had a target on their back all year,” Austin said. “But they’ve done a great job of embracing the challenge and enjoying it, and tonight was no different.