NAMPA, Idaho – Coming into their State 5A semifinal matchup with Centennial, the Coeur d’Alene basketball team was intent on shutting down the dynamic Patriots duo of Faruk Huskic and Patrick Manning.
Coeur d’Alene accomplished that goal, holding Centennial’s go-to seniors to 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting. But in the process, the Vikings lost track of Aaron Maffey, and it proved costly in a 54-47 loss at the Idaho Center.
Maffey scored 22 points and burned CdA with several crucial 3-pointers. The junior shot 8 for 14 from the floor and added five rebounds.
“Aaron Maffey had an outstanding game,” said Coeur d’Alene coach Kent Leiss. “I thought we did a great job defensively on everybody else, but we lost Maffey a few times and he hurt us.”
Centennial’s defensive focus was on slowing down Coeur d’Alene forward Deon Watson, but at times it didn’t matter. The 6-foot-4 junior poured in 22 points, scoring on an impressive variety of post moves and midrange jumpers.
“Watson is a great player,” said Centennial coach Tom Aipperspach. “We just couldn’t stop him, but I thought we did a great job on everyone else. Our defensive effort was the difference.”
Watson’s teammates combined for just 25 points on 41 percent shooting. Senior guard Jake Matheson scored nine but shot just 4 for 10 from the floor. Fellow senior Andrew Baracco had six points and eight rebounds but was saddled with foul trouble. And Coeur d’Alene got zero points from its bench.
“I’m proud of the way my teammates battled,” Watson said. “Centennial is a great team, but we didn’t back down. We’ve still got the fight in our hearts, and we are going to play to win tomorrow.”
Coeur d’Alene (16-8) plays Borah (19-6) for third place at 10 a.m. PST today at Columbia High in Nampa.
Friday’s game was close throughout as Centennial led 24-22 at the half and 40-39 after three quarters. The Patriots finally built a small lead late in the fourth quarter, thanks largely to a clutch 3-pointer and fast-break layup by Maffey.
Coeur d’Alene had opportunities in the game’s closing moments as Centennial missed four free throws that could have iced the game. But the Vikings could not take advantage, misfiring on four consecutive 3-pointers in the final 1:30 of regulation.
“It was a great game,” Leiss said. “I’m proud of how hard we played, but Centennial was the best defensive team we played all year. They were extremely aggressive and physical on defense, and that’s why they are playing (for the championship) tomorrow.”
Huskic finished with 14 points and five rebounds for Centennial, which won the turnover battle 11-4 and turned Coeur d’Alene’s giveaways into 20 points.
Centennial (20-5) plays Mountain View (20-5) in an all-District Three 5A championship game at 7 p.m. today in the Idaho Center.