Idaho A-2 boys
St. Maries didn’t pull off another miracle finish Saturday morning.
The Lumberjacks weren’t wearing long faces, though, after falling to No. 1-ranked Emmett 65-53 in the State A-2 boys basketball tournament third-place game at Meridian High School.
St. Maries (17-9) exceeded expectations. Picked to finish fourth in the Intermountain League, the Lumberjacks took second and did likewise at district.
They met their goal of playing three games at state, thereby contending for a trophy. They allowed themselves to dream after a dramatic first-round victory.
Although the season ended in a loss, St. Maries’ overall accomplishments will far transcend the defeat. Unlike teams with higher expectations, the Lumberjacks won’t carry the what-might-have-been thought into the off-season.
Senior post Mark Raebel got the Lumberjacks out fast as he made his first six shots. His final shot of the opening quarter, a 3-pointer, put St. Maries ahead 19-9.
St. Maries had a 10-point lead early in the second quarter before the Huskies (23-3) shut down Raebel and forced the tempo.
“We lost that momentum and patience we had in the first quarter,” St. Maries coach Todd Bitterman said.
Raebel scored just two free throws in the second and third quarters. He finished with a team-high 23 points. St. Maries’ other post, Derick Driggs, broke loose in the third quarter for four straight baskets to keep the Lumberjacks close. The score was tied six times in the period. Driggs’ final basket of the quarter tied the score at 40-40 with 2:16 remaining.
Emmett used an 8-2 spurt to take a 48-42 lead into the fourth quarter. Trailing 52-46, St. Maries forced a turnover and had an opportunity to trim the lead. But from the 6-minute mark until the end it was a matter of missed chances for the Lumberjacks. A putback by Raebel got St. Maries within 60-53 with 2:50 remaining. But the Lumberjacks didn’t score again.
Emmett’s inside-outside combination of posts Jason Youngstrom and Brandon Johns and guard Dustin Lopez was too much for St. Maries to defend.
Lopez matched Raebel’s 23 points. Youngstrom and Johns each added 14.
Perhaps most telling were four statistical categories: points off turnovers (Emmett 17, St. Maries 6); second-effort points (Emmett 13, St. Maries 11); points off the bench (Emmett 11, St. Maries 7); and rebounds (Emmett 37, St. Maries 32).
St. Maries didn’t shoot well from 3-point range, either. It made just 2 of 12 against Emmett and was 0 of 10 the night before against Bishop Kelly.
“We’re not a 3-point team by any means, but we did shoot about 45 percent all season,” Bitterman said. “I was happy to play Bishop Kelly and Emmett. We played with them and it showed we’re a pretty good team and we played well.”
The future is bright for St. Maries. It returns three starters (Trent Duffey, Caleb Krebs and Driggs) and five reserves. Bitterman praised his seniors, particularly Raebel and D.J. Eberlin.
“They were freshmen when I was a freshman, my first year of teaching at St. Maries,” Bitterman said. “D.J. and Mark have been with me on every team I coached - junior varsity and varsity. It was sweet to get down here with them. We’ll be hopeful (next year). We’d like to get down here and make it a trend.”
Emmett 65, St. Maries 53
Emmett 11 19 18 17 - 65
St. Maries 19 9 14 11 - 53
EMMETT - Lopez 23, Thayn 3, Brown 7, Beitia 0, McKie 0, Skinner 0, Youngstrom 14, Radke 2, Rahrer 2, Johns 14, Hines 0, Pratt 0, Aizpitarre 0, Buck 0.
ST. MARIES - Krebs 0, Duffey 4, Willard 6, D.J. Eberlin 7, P. Eberlin 0, Stevensen 0, Driggs 12, Ware 0, Holdahl 1, Raebel 23.
Senior guard Ben Heusser scored 29 points, including five 3-point field goals, as Preston defeated Jerome 64-48 for the tournament’s consolation title.
Preston built a 31-23 halftime lead but broke the game open in the third quarter with a 19-8 run. Besides Heusser’s longrange bombing, the Indians got 13 points from Tyson Porter.