MERIDIAN — During a recent practice, Kobe Terashima, Kolby Lee and Jacob Erickson argued about which one of them was the better bowler. Each one claimed they were the best.
This type of argument between the Rocky Mountain High School teammates and best friends occurs almost on a daily basis. What can’t be argued with, though, is the impact the seniors have made this season for the Rocky Mountain boys basketball team.
The Grizzlies won the 5A District III title for the second time in three years. The team boasts a current winning streak of 22 games, and its 23-1 record is the best in program history.
The success stems from the close bond the three seniors have with one another. They’ll take that bond to Thursday’s 5A State Boys Basketball Tournament at the Idaho Center. Rocky Mountain plays Bonneville at 3 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s been awesome to do this with my two best friends over the years, particularly this season,” Terashima said. “We’re all leading the team together and just having a lot of fun doing it. We’re all looking forward to this one last ride together.”
Lee and Erickson met each other while attending Heritage Middle School in Meridian. Terashima joined the fold when he transferred in from Mountain View High midway through his freshman year. From then on, the three have become inseparable.
On any given day, the trio can be found golfing, playing videos and of course bowling together. But they’ve spent most of their time on the hardwood floor, starting for the state’s second-ranked team.
Lee and Erickson moved up to varsity halfway through their freshman year, while Terashima joined his friends on varsity the following season.
“After seeing them all play together early on, I had a really good feeling they were going to be the future and take us to where we want to go,” Rocky Mountain coach Dane Roy said.
Roy ended up being right, as this year his three senior leaders each had terrific seasons. At 6-foot-9 inches and 260 pounds, Lee nearly averaged a double-double this season at center.
His 16.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game were both team-highs.
Terashima was second on the team in scoring, and first in assists. The point guard averaged 10.9 points and 6.7 assists per game. Last, but certainly not least, is Terashima’s counterpart in the backcourt, Erickson, who led the team in three-point field goals with 44 to go along with 8.5 points per game.
With numbers like that from their senior leaders, the Grizzlies ran roughshod over almost everyone. They beat their opponents by nearly 21 points per game, with 19 of their 23 wins coming by double digits. Their offense averaged nearly 67 points per game, while only allowing 46 to opposing teams.
“They play their spots so well and make each other better,” Roy said. “Kolby is a true big. He pounds it on the inside and no one can stop him. Jacob spaces the floor and can shoot threes and Kobe loves to share the ball. He sees the court really well, dribbles up and finds those two so well. They’re a pretty awesome combination to have.”
It’s not always high fives and handshakes between the friends though. The three are constantly pushing each other in practice, and on more than one occasion, things in practice have gotten heated.
“We hold each other accountable,” Lee said. “Here, if one of us takes a play off, you’re getting abused. If Jacob takes a play off, I’m dunking on him. If I take a play off, Kobe is taking me to the rack every time.”
While the friends have always had that mentality between them, it really intensified after they experienced a 26-point loss to Madison High School from Rexburg in the first round of last year’s state tournament.
Like Rocky Mountain, Madison (21-1) has lost only one game this season, own a winning streak (14), have beaten most of its opponents by double digits (19) and were District VI champions. But unlike the Grizzlies, the Bobcats averaged more points per game (69.6), had a higher margin of victory (23.9) and were always voted right above as the No. 1 team in the state all season long. And with the two teams on opposite sides of the bracket, a championship collision course could be in the cards.
“Madison is a great team. They’ve played together since they were little, but I think we’re better,” Lee said. “This year, we’re coming for them. I guarantee you that. We want that game back. We got humiliated last year and it’s not going to happen again.”
While all three want payback on Madison for what took place last season, the friends know they have to get there first, something that hasn’t happened the last two seasons. During those last two seasons, Rocky Mountain has fallen in the first round and has had to settle for a consolation championship each time.
“That’s all we’ve talked about all year,” Erickson said. “We’re tired of ending up at Columbia High School playing in the tournament. We want to stay at the Idaho Center. We want to finally get to that next step and see what we can do.”
The last time Rocky Mountain made it to a state championship game, Terashima, Lee and Erickson were all in the eighth grade in 2013. The Grizzles ended up losing to Borah by three points. Rocky Mountain has never won a state title in boys basketball, so if the trinity were to win it all Saturday, they’d be making history together.
“I feel like this year we got something special and we’re going to make the most out of it,” Erickson said.
Added Terashima: “It would be a dream come true. It’s what we dreamed of as kids growing up and playing together, winning a state championship with my brothers.”
OTHER LOCAL 5A TEAMS
State seed: District Three runner-up
Coach: Manny Varela, second season
Players to watch: G Paul Pennington, jr.; W Lucas Centeno, jr.; P Andrew Theobald, sr.
Notes: At state for the first time since 1997, when it finished third. … Varela, a former Borah assistant, has built Boise in the Lions’ image, holding opponents to a classification-low 44.5 points per game. … 1-5 vs. teams in the 5A state tournament. … Pennington leads the 5A SIC in scoring and enters state averaging 18.3 points, 5.6 assists and 3.0 steals. … Centeno (11.0 ppg, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists) is an athletic threat equally capable of shooting from outside and dunking on the break. … Has won five state titles, the last in 1986. … Last reached the finals in 1991.
State seed: District Three fourth-place finisher
Coach: Josh Aipperspach, second season
Players to watch: G/F Delveion Jackson, sr.; G Brooks King, sr.; G Jaydon Clark, sr.
Notes: At state for the second year in a row. … Jackson (14.7 ppg, 8.5 rebounds) has verbally committed to a full-ride scholarship from UC Davis. … Can heat up behind the 3-point line with King (16.5 ppg, 42 percent 3-point shooter) and Clark (9.6 ppg, 50 percent 3-point shooter). … Five players average seven or more points per game. … 2-5 vs. teams in the 5A state tournament. … Won two titles, the last in 2003. … Last state trophy was in 2011, when it finished second.
MOUNTAIN VIEW MAVERICKS
State seed: District three third-place finisher
Coach: Jon Nettleton, 12th season
Players to watch: G Cam Howard, sr.; F Jalen Galloway, jr.; F Juan Aguilar, sr.
Notes: At state for the fifth time in seven years. … Returns four starters after going two-and-out at state last year. … 2-3 vs. teams in the 5A state tournament. … Offense is led by Howard (18.1 ppg), who shoots 41.5 percent behind the 3-point line. … Features two 6-6 forwards in Galloway (13.2 ppg, 8.6 rebounds) and Aguilar (10.8 ppg, 6.0 rebounds). … Won its only state title, appeared in its only championship game and captured its last state trophy in 2011.