Travis Fulton turned out to be a prophet. Well, sort of.
The Kellogg senior point guard predicted three weeks ago in a feature story in The Spokesman-Review that the Wildcats would meet Bonners Ferry in the final game.
With the game tied in the waning seconds of the hoped-for showdown, Fulton would either make the game-winning shot or pass to a teammate for the winning basket.
For those keeping score at home, make it assist Fulton.
Fulton found post Brant Bircher inside and Bircher, after missing an uncontested 7-foot jumper, coaxed the ensuing 5-foot putback over the front rim at the buzzer as Kellogg pulled out a thrilling 87-85 win over the Badgers in double overtime Saturday in the State A-2 boys basketball consolation final at Idaho State University’s Reed Gym.
It wasn’t the state championship Fulton dreamed of, but it’s a trophy nonetheless - the first for a Kellogg team in three visits to state since 1981.
Kellogg, ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, finished the season with a 21-4 record, the most wins among A-2 teams. Third-ranked Bonners Ferry ended at 19-7.
Afterward, Bircher expressed how thankful he was for a second chance.
“After I missed the first shot I wasn’t sure I was going to get the second shot off (before the buzzer),” Bircher said.
In the championship game, Weiser defeated Marsh Valley 50-47. Sugar-Salem topped Bear Lake 62-58 for third.
The consolation game was the fourth game this season between the Intermountain League co-champions and friendly rivals.
After Bonners Ferry manhandled Kellogg 74-50 in the first game at Bonners Ferry in early January, the Wildcats won the last three.
Playing in its second double-overtime game at state in two days, Kellogg answered the alarm clock earlier than the Badgers in the Saturday morning eye-opener.
The Wildcats sprinted to a 22-5 lead and maintained the spread at the quarter (25-8).
Kellogg would need all of the lead as it would turn out. The Badgers outscored the Wildcats in the final three quarters. And Bonners Ferry appeared poised to beat Kellogg in regulation.
Especially when the Badgers, clinging to a 79-76 lead, defended Kellogg’s 3-point shooting aces - Fulton, Derek Jennings and Jeremy Behm - in the closing seconds of regulation.
Even when Kellogg’s 6-foot-6 junior post Casey Fisher stepped behind the 3-point line as the final option, Bonners Ferry post Brian Stewart was nearby. He partially deflected Fisher’s shot, but the ball still found the basket to send the game into overtime.
Fisher put in his name as a candidate for A-2 Player of the Year next year with a solid state tournament. He saved his best for Bonners Ferry as he scored a game-high 39 points and had 13 rebounds. He repeatedly punished the Badgers inside.
Bircher supported Fisher with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Together they led Kellogg’s 53-42 dominance on the boards. The Wildcats used 22 offensive rebounds to score 16 second-effort points, including the winner.
“We stressed before the game no second shots,” Bonners Ferry coach Dick Hollenbeck said. “It obviously killed us.”
Kellogg maintained a double-digit lead through the second quarter after its hot start, but coach David Roberts was concerned.
“They (Bonners Ferry) came out flat and we went flat in the second quarter,” Roberts said. “We fell asleep and that made me worrisome.” Kellogg led 39-28 at halftime.
Bonners Ferry finally caught Kellogg with 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Badgers senior Gavin Glindeman led the comeback with 33 points. Kris Gravelle and Benson LaRue scored 16 each and Stewart 13.
It wasn’t enough, however, to offset the Fisher-Bircher production of 56 points and 28 rebounds.
“It was a great way to end the season,” said Roberts, whose team also was awarded the tournament’s sportsmanship award. “After we lost Thursday, I asked (the players) if they could come back and get a trophy and do something no Kellogg team has done in a long while. They responded.”
And the Wildcats made a prophet out of Fulton.
Well, sort of.
Kellogg 87, Bonners Ferry 85
Fulton 17, Behm 5, Jennings 7, Kohal 2, Fisher 36, Nielsen 3, Bircher 17.
BONNERS FERRY (85)
Meeker 2, Stewart 13, LaRue 16, High 5, Glindeman 33, Cravelle 16.
Halftime-Kellogg 39, Bonners Ferry 28.