Mike McLean can talk from the stance of experience.
The Post Falls boys basketball coach watched his team capture a State 5A championship last year. The Trojans returned two key starters – Connor Hill and Marcus Colbert. Together they’ve teamed with some role players to get to the point where they believe defending their title is a distinct possibility.
Still, Post Falls had to qualify for state like it did last year – by winning an elimination game.
“It’s kind of the same route we took last year,” McLean said. “When we got upset by Lewiston on the opening night (of regionals), we told our players we’ve been here before. Realistically we just put ourselves a week ahead of schedule in terms of must-wins.”
To win a state title there’s no room for error: three wins in three days.
Post Falls (19-4) begins that quest Thursday when it faces District III runner-up Borah (18-5) at the Idaho Center in Nampa at 7 PST.
Coeur d’Alene (15-7), which captured the Region I championship, meets District III fourth-place qualifier Eagle (14-10) at 12:15.
McLean senses the Trojans are driven to make it two in a row.
“I think they’re as hungry as they can be,” McLean said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we make it Saturday night that we’re playing Coeur d’Alene.”
CdA coach Kent Leiss expects his team to fare well. The Vikings got off to a slow start because of a late football season that resulted in a state championship. He thinks the Vikings are peaking at the right time.
“I’m pretty confident we can do well,” Leiss said. “This team is as good as any team down there. We just have to go prove it.”
4A: Region I champ Moscow (8-13) takes on District III runner-up Skyview (19-4) at Borah High in Boise.
3A: The Priest River Spartans will seek a state title repeat.
The Spartans spent most of the season ranked atop the 3A poll. They slipped a little late in the year, but they appear to be back on track led by seniors Eric Holbrook and Max Salesky.
Priest River (17-5) opens against Fruitland (16-6) at 2 at Meridian High School. District runner-up St. Maries (18-5) faces Sugar-Salem (16-7) at 5:15.
1A Division II: Kootenai (6-11) heads to state with easily the worst record in the field.
Kootenai opens against Murtaugh (13-9) at 7 at Caldwell High School.