You could see it on Rick Sloan’s face.
Sure, by season’s end the Central Valley boys basketball coach is worn out, like his players. Yet one could sense he didn’t want the season to end.
The Bears reached a goal by playing on Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. But they wanted to play in the late game, not the morning opener.
Sloan awoke his boys at 5:30 and they answered the call, knocking off the Newport Braves 56-39 to capture fourth at the State 4A tournament.
The Bears (24-3) survived a defensive yet sluggish first half to take an 18-15 lead into halftime.
And when the wide-bodied Braves wouldn’t allow CV to penetrate consistently, the Bears had to strike from outside.
Junior AJ Knudsen hit three key 3-pointers, and the Bears started separating themselves late in the third quarter. Two free throws from Ryan Deckard allowed CV to take a 36-26 lead into the fourth.
“AJ Knudsen was huge,” Sloan said. “And a lot of other guys stepped up.”
CV quickly pushed the lead to 16 points and the Braves had no choice but to put the Bears on the foul line. The Bears responded by making 13 of 15 free throws in the final 5:18.
Knudsen and Adam Chamberlain each had 17 points and Austin Rehkow, the lone senior starter, had 12. Austin Daines had a team-high 12 rebounds.
“That’s a very good team,” Sloan said of Newport. “They remind me a lot of Jackson (CV’s first-day loss). They’ve got a really good shooter and they’ve got some bigs inside that are tough and strong. It’s hard with an 8 a.m. game. But we challenged these guys to find a way to come ready to play.”
Idaho 4A State
The Rigby Trojans – trailing by 11 points at halftime – outscored the Moscow Bears 15-3 in the third period en route to a 45-43 victory in the Idaho State 4A title game at Nampa, Idaho.