NAMPA, Idaho – A Cinderella state tournament run and a dramatic championship game comeback fell just short for the St. Maries boys basketball team.
One day after upsetting top-ranked Ririe in the semifinals, St. Maries erased a 10-point second-half deficit against North Fremont in the 2A title game, but the Lumberjacks ultimately dropped a 45-37 overtime game Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center.
Senior big man Dan Howard had 12 points and 10 rebounds for St. Maries (19-8), but the Lumberjacks’ rally ran out of steam in OT as North Fremont (20-6) celebrated the first title in program history.
“Our kids are so resilient and so tough,” St. Maries coach Bryan Chase said. “This is a scrappy bunch, and they played their hearts out. I’m so proud of them.”
North Fremont prevailed in OT, but St. Maries nearly won it at the regulation buzzer. Coming out of a timeout, sophomore guard Eli Gibson went coast-to-coast, but his layup barely fell off the iron as time expired.
“We had a great look – we’ll make that shot 99 times out of a hundred,” Chase said. “It hung on the rim forever, but it didn’t go down.”
“It was heart-dropping,” Howard said. “I thought it was going in. I think we all did.”
Given new life, the Huskies cruised through the 4-minute extra period, getting an inside bucket from standout senior Garrett Hawkes and making eight consecutive free throws to close it out.
Hawkes led North Fremont with 22 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
“St. Maries is a great ballclub, and they weren’t going to go down easy,” Hawkes said. “Coach has been talking about grit all season, and we had to dig deep to find it within us.”
St. Maries led 11-9 after one quarter, but the Huskies dominated the second, attacking the basket and clamping down on defense to take a 23-13 halftime lead.
Slowly, St. Maries turned the tide, outrebounding and outhustling the Huskies to climb back into it. When Howard scored to give St. Maries its first lead if the second half with 5:54 remaining, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.
“They have gritty, hard-nosed kids, just like us,” North Fremont coach Shannon Hill said. “They gave us everything we wanted. I love how they play basketball.”
There were six lead changes in the final 6 minutes. After St. Maries missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:06 remaining and the score tied, North Fremont looked to hold for the last shot. But Hawkes missed a short jumper, allowing the Lumberjacks to call timeout with 5.9 seconds left.
Gibson slipped to the rim for a clean look as the horn sounded. But it fell off the iron, giving the Huskies a chance to regroup and win it in overtime.
“We’ve always had heart and we’ve always come back,” Howard said. “We just couldn’t make shots in overtime to finish it off.”
North Fremont held St. Maries to 24 percent shooting, but the Lumberjacks countered by winning the rebounding battle 38-24. Tyler Lohman added 11 points off the bench for St. Maries, which was in its first state final since 1987 and seeking its first title since 1960.
Post Falls 57, Rigby 48: Alex Horning scored 16 points and Post Falls (19-7) topped Rigby (20-8) to claim third place at Columbia High School in Nampa.
Colby Gennett added 15 points for Post Falls, while Britton Berrett led Rigby with 12 points.
Parma 47, Kellogg 43: Braydon Jensen scored 18 points and the Panthers (21-5) topped the Wildcats (10-15) in the consolation final at Meridian High School.
Brennen Atkins paced Kellogg with 12 points, and Graden Nearing added nine points and grabbed four rebounds.
Genesis Prep 62, Logos 39: Kon Ajang and Scott Mwinuka scored 15 points apiece and the Jaguars (16-9) bounced back from their semifinal loss to defeat the Knights (11-7) to claim third place at Caldwell High School.
Seth Neely added 10 points for Genesis Prep. Bennett Schlect and Nate Miller led Logos with 10 points each.
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