When it came down to it, Shadle Park High just didn’t have an answer for U-Hi’s Zach Martin. Or enough big guys.
Martin, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, scored a career-high-tying 28 points Thursday night – including nine consecutive in a key fourth-quarter stretch – to lead the host Titans to a 64-47 victory and the District 8 boys title.
Both U-Hi (17-4) and Shadle (13-9) advance to next week’s regionals, but the Titans won’t have to travel Tuesday. It was U-Hi’s third victory over Shadle this season.
“I don’t like bus rides,” Martin said, his piece of district-title memorabilia – the net – tucked safely behind his left ear.
Maybe that’s why he scored 10 first-quarter points, helping the Titans to a 13-2 lead. And maybe that’s why he popped in a 20-footer to open the second half, stretching U-Hi’s four-point halftime edge to seven.
And maybe it’s why, when the Highlanders, having trailed by as many as 11, clawed back within six with 5:30 remaining, Martin drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and then added a three-point play inside, all within 55 seconds.
But more than likely it was because the Highlanders, who start three guards, were stuck shadowing Martin with a shorter player.
“We just have too many weapons and (Martin) is a matchup problem,” said U-Hi coach Garrick Phillips. “It’s kind of pick your poison. Zack scored a bunch tonight – (Brett) Bailey’s carried the scoring load most of the year – but Martin’s really, really deadly.”
With Shadle’s 6-7 Brett Boese matching up with the Titans’ leading scorer, the 6-5 Bailey (eight points), and 6-5 Nick Bettinson having to muscle inside with 6-5 Conner Johnson (10 points), Martin often was shooting over smaller defenders.
“We have enough scorers as it is,” Martin said. “It’s not one player. I just got lucky today.”
But when you are 9 of 12 from the field, as Martin was, luck isn’t that big a factor. He scored inside, he scored from the line (5 of 5) and he scored outside, hitting 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. And, as he was quick to point out, when he was open, his teammates found him.
“We have so many dang weapons, it makes it hard to focus on anybody,” Phillips said. “I’ve said this many times, but I wouldn’t want to try to put together a plan to go against us.”
When Martin was on the bench in the first half with three fouls, Shadle played some zone. But when Zane McDonald and Martin were able to bury a couple 3-pointers after halftime, it was back to man.
That’s what U-Hi played, and the Titans put together two second-half stretches – four scoreless minutes in the third quarter and a one-point, three-minute stretch in the fourth – that helped them pull away.
Point guard Kionte Brown was Shadle’s best weapon in this one, scoring a team-high 15 points, while Boese added 13 and Bettinson another 11.
Idaho 4A Region I
Moscow 67, Sandpoint 61: Host Moscow (11-10) built a 13-point lead through three quarters and then withstood a Sandpoint rally to force the Bulldogs (8-14) into a rematch with Lakeland.
Derek Pennington led four Moscow scorers in double figures with 15 points while Sandpoint got 27 from Jackson Olin.
The Bulldogs will have to beat the Hawks again in a loser-out game in Rathdrum at 6 p.m. Saturday for the right to play Moscow again.
Timberlake 70, Bonners Ferry 62: The Tigers and took off to a 21-8 advantage over the host Badgers in the first quarter and were never headed in Timberlake’s league finale. The Badgers finish the league season at St. Maries on Saturday.
Brian Cronnelly led four Tigers in double figures with 16 points. Andre Zarate led three Badgers in double figures with 19.
North Star League
Lakeside 64, Kootenai 45: Jordan Brown scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter as the Knights took off for the victory over the host Warriors in Harrison.
Joseph Champan and Lamont Higgins added 12 each for the Knights who tied Wallace for the league crown at 7-1. A coin flip will determine which school hosts the other on Tuesday in a loser-out game that will send the winner into a 1A Division I state play-in game.
Kootenai got 11 points from Marshall Williams and 10 from Graydon Myhre. The Warriors will play the loser of Thursday’s Mullan-Clark Fork game for the 1A Division II championship and a berth to state.