NAMPA • All Wayne Dill could do to hold back tears was talk into the microphone.

The 14-year veteran Dietrich Blue Devils head coach addressed the crowd at the Nampa Center for the first time in his life. Staring straight back at him were the faces of former players, lifelong fans and family. His emotions were bound to get the best of him.

Dill held his composure for the majority of his speech but got choked up towards the end. He stood in front of the large white banner that had eluded him and the school for years. He thanked everyone he could remember.

It was a moment half a century in the making, and according to Dill, worth every second.

Garrett Astle and Jake Smith combined to score 40 points Saturday morning against Council, leading the North Side Conference champion Blue Devils past the Lumberjacks, 68-55, in the 1ADII championship game at the Idaho Center.

It is the first state title for the Dietrich boys team since 1966. It is also the second year in a row a team from the North Side Conference comes home with the championship; Carey took first-place in 2015.

“I’m really close with my players. And sometimes you see the way I get after them on the floor, it might not look like that. (But) I love my players,” Dill said as he started to tear up again. “And it’s a real tribute when they come back. It’s a really tribute when they come up and hug you. And they are why we’re here. My players are special. They’re like family to me.”

For years, Dill and his players watched the girls team travel to Nampa and win trophies. His always took his team to watch Acey Shaw work his magic and win four-straight titles and make six-straight appearances in the title game.

This time around it was the girls team sitting in the stands watching the boys get their share of the glory.

“We’ve been watching a long time,” said Dill. “The girls have been here a lot, and we’ve been working really hard at it.”

The Blue Devils made it to the semifinals at state a season ago before falling to Rockland and eventually defeating Mackay in the third-place game. Dietrich took home its trophy last year behind star seniors Trey Dill, Austin Fenstermaker and Liam Bingham.

In their place were a handful of sophomores, juniors and a lone senior in Alex Hurtado. Even Dill admits that he had his doubts that this would be the year Dietrich would make history.

“Truthfully, when you lose two all-staters and you lose players of that quality, you do worry. But we knew what we had coming,” Dill said. “It just all came together this year.”

It all came together Saturday morning.

The Blue Devils jumped on Council early and led by nine after a quarter by way of five-straight points from junior Garrett Astle. Jake Smith hit a 3-pointer late in the second quarter that put the Blue Devils up 36-18.

By halftime the lead stood at 15 points behind 13 each from Astle and Smith. Just 16 minutes of basketball stood between Dietrich and the trophy it had coveted for years.

“We just got to the semifinal game (last year), and we want to go further. And we knew we had to work harder, push harder and play harder,” Astle said. “We weren’t going to get the win without working.”

The Lumberjacks did their best to prevent Dietrich’s celebration late in the third by cutting what was a 23-point deficit to just 14. Council trimmed the Dietrich lead all the way down to nine part way through the fourth.

Even though they had controlled the tempo all game, Dill knew the Blue Devils weren’t in the clear quite yet.

“I’ll be honest. I was pretty worried there for a little bit,” Dill said with a laugh.

An acrobatic layup by Smith swung the momentum back in favor of Dietrich with under five minutes remaining. From there Council was forced to foul. Dietrich did its part by hitting 23 shots from the charity stripe in the game.

“When Porter (Robertson) made those couple free throws, I turned to his dad, an assistant coach, and said ‘That’s the dagger right there,’” Dill said with a grin. “And that was.”

Astle led the way for Dietrich in the win with a game-high 21 points. Smith wound up with 19 while Slade Dill and Kade Shaw each scored nine points.

Up with a hefty lead late, Dill put the team’s reserves in so they could savor the moment as well. And when the final buzzer sounded, Astle, Smith and the rest of the players jumped into each other’s arms. The mission was finally complete.

“To finally get here and win it, its a special feeling,” Smith said. “We’ve had some pretty good teams the past couple years and we haven’t quite got it done. (And) we finally get it done.”

On paper, Dietrich’s banner year started with consecutive losses to Butte County and Oakley. In the middle there was a 15-game winning streak. And at the end of the road there was a first-place trophy.

But in all reality Dietrich’s championship season started years ago. Dill referred to his former players as “the building blocks” in his speech to the crowd. Even players from the title-winning team from 50 years ago made the trip.

Everyone associated with Dietrich, past and present, was a part of this of Saturday’s celebration. All Astle could do was smile.

“My heart can’t get any bigger for these guys. I couldn’t have done it without them,” Astle said. “This community, I love every one of them.”

Dietrich loses just one senior from its championship squad and looks the part of a team destined to return to the Idaho Center in 2017. Of course, the Blue Devils looked the part of “championship contender” in years past and were unable to get over the hump.

The difference this year was an unmatched camaraderie.

“I feel like we had a good chance. I felt like we could get something done,” said Smith. “We just trust each other.”

The Blue Devils know it was chemistry that got them to a first-place finish. They know it will take the same to get them back there in future seasons. But on Saturday next year didn’t matter in the slightest.

Because for the first time in 50 years, the Dietrich boys were on top of the world.

“Without these fans, without these players, we couldn’t have done it,” Astle said. “We love them.”

Dietrich 68, Council 55

Dietrich 22 17 13 16 — 68

Council 13 11 14 17 — 55

Get the latest sports news and scores sent to your email inbox

DIETRICH (68)

Astle 21, Smith 19, Shaw 9, Dill 9, Tew 5, Robertson 4, Hurtado 1

Totals: 15 23-31 68

COUNCIL (55)

Rosengrant 19, Mahon 8, Cepeda 8, Nichols 7, Neal 6, Ludwig 4, Paradis 3

Totals: 22 2-7 55

3-point field goals: Dietrich 5 (Smith 3, Tew 1, Dill 1) Council 3 (Rosegrant 1, Nichols 1, Neal 1)

Team fouls: Dietrich 8, Council 20

Dietrich 68, Council 55

Dietrich 68, Council 55

Dietrich 22 17 13 16 — 68

Council 13 11 14 17 — 55

DIETRICH (68)

Astle 21, Smith 19, Shaw 9, Dill 9, Tew 5, Robertson 4, Hurtado 1

Totals: 15 23-31 68

COUNCIL (55)

Rosengrant 19, Mahon 8, Cepeda 8, Nichols 7, Neal 6, Ludwig 4, Paradis 3

Totals: 22 2-7 55

3-point field goals: Dietrich 5 (Smith 3, Tew 1, Dill 1) Council 3 (Rosegrant 1, Nichols 1, Neal 1)

Team fouls: Dietrich 8, Council 20

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments