NAMPA — When a 6-foot, 10-inch 260-pound man admits he can’t stop smiling, you know something really exhilarating must have happened.
Rocky Mountain High School senior center Kolby Lee couldn’t hide his emotion as the Rocky Mountain boys basketball team won its first state championship in program history.
Rocky Mountain defeated Centennial 72-51 in the 5A State Boys Championship game Saturday night at the Idaho Center to cap a historic season.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Lee said. “I just can’t stop smiling. It’s been a phenomenal season. We’ve battled, and with the heart of our guys, it’s just been awesome.”
After back-to-back years of losing in the first round and having to settle for the consolation trophy, the Grizzlies (26-1) wrote that wrong in a big way this season. Rocky Mountain’s only loss came in the second game to Timpview (UT), but following that 94-70 defeat, it was unstoppable.
Including the state title win, the Grizzlies beat opponents by an average of over 22 points per game with 21 of their wins coming by double-digit points. They continued their reign of terror Saturday night against the Patriots.
Rocky Mountain never trailed with Centennial (17-11) only coming as close as five at 15-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Grizzlies went up by double digits in the second quarter, never letting the Patriots get within under 10 again.
The Grizzlies used their defense to control the game. They owned the boards 38 to 20, and forced the Patriots to shoot just 34.7 percent from the field.
“Our defense was the difference,” Rocky Mountain coach Dane Roy said. “In all three games of this tournament, our defense has really frustrated the other teams and we feed off that. That helps our offense and our shooting.”
It was the fourth time Rocky Mountain beat Centennial this season, and the fourth time the win came by double-digits. The win also extended its winning streak to 25 games, a school record and the longest in the state among both boys and girls basketball.
“This is big-time, it’s been a goal since we started,” senior Kobe Terashima said. “We wanted to make the school proud and make this a team to remember.”
Four different players reached double figures in scoring for the Grizzlies. Lee had 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way. Terashima logged a game-high 19 points, while juniors Tyler O’Donnell and Hunter Ranstrom recorded 13 and 12 points respectively.
Seniors Brooks King and Jackson Cleverley combined for 28 points to pace Centennial in the loss. King netted a team-high 15 points, while Cleverley chipped in with 13 for the Patriots, who saw the clock strike midnight on their Cinderella run.
Heading into the championship game, Centennial had knocked off three top five ranked teams in Capital, Madison and Post Falls. The Patriots finished fifth in the regular season 5A Southern Idaho Conference standings, having to win a play-in game just to officially qualify for districts. They not only qualified, but upset top ranked Madison in the first round of state and third ranked Post Falls in the semifinals.
“They just came together,” Centennial coach Josh Aipperspach said. “We did a lot of good things. We jelled when we needed to and we got to this game. This is where every 5A team wants to be and we got there, and that’s something to be proud of.”
3A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
SUGAR-SALEM 71, SNAKE RIVER 69, OT: Sugar-Salem held off a late push by Snake River in the overtime period as the Diggers claimed their first state title since 1994.
Hayden Wood had 27 points for Sugar-Salem (20-5), while Parker Miller scored 22.
2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
BEAR LAKE 56, RIRIE 39: Avery Carlsen scored 17 points, leading Bear Lake to its first state title since 1996.
Hayden Peterson added nine points for the Bears (23-4), while Houston Peterson added eight points.
1A DIVISION I STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
LAPWAI 57, PRAIRIE 49: Lapwai claimed its first state title since 2006 and denied Praire its third title in four years.
Payton Sobotta had 15 points to lead the Wildcats (24-1), while Emmit Taylor III and Ivory Miles-Williams both scored 13.
1A DIVISION II STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
GENESIS PREP 68, DIETRICH 62: Genesis Prep claimed a state title in just its second season as an IHSAA-member school.
Jonny Hillman had 29 points for the Jaguars (21-4), while Stephane Manzi had a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds.