NAMPA, Idaho – Mike McLean didn’t tell his Post Falls High boys basketball team to leave the Idaho Center through the back door Thursday evening.
But there was a hint of disappointment and embarrassment – this after the Trojans found a way to pull out a 63-59 win over Borah in a State 5A tournament opener.
It was, after all, a victory for Post Falls (18-5), which will meet Madison of Rexburg (16-9) in the semifinals tonight at 7 PST. But the Trojans had to overcome themselves and Borah to advance.
District III Boise-area teams went 0-4. In other openers, Lewiston topped defending state champ Vallivue 63-58, Twin Falls stopped Eagle 68-58 and Madison got past Capital 56-48.
Lewiston (20-4) takes on Twin Falls (19-8) in the other semifinal.
Post Falls 63, Borah 59: The looks on the Trojans’ faces – and their coach’s face – as they filed out of the locker room were telling.
In a word, it was relief.
The Trojans trailed most of the game, but when it mattered most they made big plays.
None was bigger than the rebound senior Justin Carter pulled down in the waning seconds with Post Falls trailing 59-58. With no clear look under the basket, Carter caught teammate Shawn Reid out of the corner of his eye.
Carter got a wrap-around pass to Reid, who made a fall-away 4-foot bank shot as he was fouled with 3.7 seconds left. He made the foul shot to put the Trojans ahead 61-59.
“I tried to angle my body so I could take the foul and finish,” Reid said.
“I was just looking for the open guy,” Carter said.
Borah’s ensuing inbounds pass went out of bounds at midcourt, giving the Trojans the ball under their basket. Carter was immediately fouled, and he secured the victory with two free throws.
It was a game both teams had numerous chances to put away in the fourth quarter, but neither could until Reid and Carter made plays at the end.
“I don’t know if we deserved to win that or not, but I truly believe in close games like that it comes down to better players making plays,” McLean said. “That obviously wasn’t our best game as far as execution.”
State openers have a way of doing that to teams, though.
Carter picked up three fouls in the first half and was largely ineffective. But he stepped in the final two quarters, finishing with a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds.
“I just couldn’t let it get to my head,” Carter said of his early foul trouble.
The Trojans were outrebounded 22-13 in the first half. That was one of the reasons the Lions (15-10) were able to use a 15-4 run to take a 34-26 lead at halftime.
“We played really bad tonight,” said Reid, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. “They’re a good team. They definitely challenged us in a way that we haven’t been challenged yet this season.”
But the big reason the Trojans were out of sorts was by their own making.
“We took really quick shots (including), me personally,” Reid said. “I apologized to my team for that. At the end we kind of came together and we stepped up our defense.”
The Trojans got big contributions from a couple of other players. Conner Hill had 15 points and Malcolm Colbert had five steals and three assists.
Borah coach Cary Cada said his team’s inability to finish was its downfall all season.
“Give all the credit to Post Falls,” Cada said. “They made the plays they needed to make.
“They had a more complete effort than we had. We were fortunate to put ourselves in a position to win.”
McLean was pleased his team found a way to survive.
“I believe this first game is more difficult to win than a state championship (game),” McLean said.
Lewiston 63, Vallivue 58: The Bengals used a 14-2 run to close out the first half and take control.
Junior post Justin Podrabsky led Lewiston with 26 points and 10 rebounds.