Genesis Prep junior Jonny Hillman grabbed the opening tipoff, raced downcourt and muscled his way to the hoop for a layup.
It was a sign of things to come in a championship game that was never in doubt.
Hillman scored 21 points and the Jaguars led from wire-to-wire, rolling to a 59-33 victory over Carey in the 1A Division II State final Saturday morning at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.
The win caps a two-year run of dominance for Genesis Prep (22-4), which repeated as champion at Idaho’s smallest classification. The Jaguars end the season on a 17-game winning streak, and they seized command early by outscoring Carey 16-2 in the opening quarter.
“We want to set the tone from the outset,” Genesis Prep coach Marsell Colbert said. “That’s our brand of basketball, to come out and get to work right away. Holding them to two points in the first quarter, that showed me we were ready to go.”
Genesis Prep continued to extend its lead, thanks in large part to an aggressive, trapping defense that forced 16 turnovers, including six steals by Hillman.
“We knew if we pressured them well, we could get some turnovers and get off to a good start,” Hillman said.
Up 33-16 at the half, the Jaguars kept Carey at a comfortable distance the rest of the way. Jake Shelton, Junior Williams and Kon Ajang chipped in eight points apiece for Genesis Prep, with Ajang adding eight rebounds.
Kaden Koudelka had nine points and seven rebounds for Carey (21-6), which shot just 29 percent and struggled to overcome the Jaguars’ considerable size advantage. The Panthers don’t have a player taller than 6 feet. Genesis Prep’s entire starting lineup is taller, anchored by the 6-9 Ajang.
The Jaguars’ biggest adversity came when Williams had to be helped off with a knee injury late in the first quarter. The senior guard was unable to return, although he did come back onto the floor for the final 30 seconds and hit a hobbled 3-pointer right in front of the Genesis bench.
“I was just being the biggest cheerleader I could,” Williams said. “When I went back in, my brothers were cheering me on and gave me a chance to hit one last shot. It felt great.”
With the championship repeat complete, the future is uncertain for Genesis Prep. Starting next season, the Idaho High School Activities Association has ruled that overseas players will not be eligible to play in the postseason. It’s unclear what that means for the Jaguars’ hopes of a three-peat, though Colbert vowed his team will “stay together, as family.”
“This has been a heck of a run,” Colbert said. “I love these guys, and I’m happy for them because they got the reward that they worked hard for.”
The championship celebration took on a different meaning for the players, too.
“Last year was happiness,” Hillman said. “This year, it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s a more emotional win for us. Even though last year’s game was closer and more exciting, with our seven seniors this year and all the adversity we faced, this one is more special.”
Borah 62, Post Falls 56: Austin Bolt scored 28 points, hitting 11 of 15 from the floor and 6 of 6 from the line, and added eight rebound to guide the Lions (21-4) over the Trojans (19-6) in the third-place game at Columbia High School in Nampa.
Post Falls’ Jacob Pfennigs scored 23 points, hitting 4 of 8 from long range, and had 13 rebounds. Also for the Trojans, Tanner McCliment-Call had 14 points and David Bourgard added five assists.
Sugar-Salem 62, Kellogg 60 (2OT): Chandler Pincock hit 12 of 18 from the floor and scored 27 points to lead the Diggers (22-8) past the Wildcats (18-5) in the consolation final at Meridian High School.
Chase Jerome led Kellogg with 16 points. Tanner Mueller and Ryan Morgan added 14 points apiece.
Kellogg, which led 40-29, shot 1 of 11 on 3-pointers and was outrebounded 44-26.
Declo 59, St. Maries 46: Trey Smyer scored 14 points and the Hornets (15-4) outscored the Lumberjacks (18-6) 25-8 in the final quarter to win the third-place game at Capital High School in Boise.
Glover Bulo and Dan Powers scored 11 points apiece for the Lumberjacks, who were outscored 21-11 at the line.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.