CALDWELL – The Mel Brooks classic spoof film “Spaceballs” contains a scene where Darth Helmet demands his ship’s velocity to increase to “Ludicrous speed,” for which he receives an outburst of shock and worry from his crew.
“But sir, we’ve never gone that fast before. I don’t know if the ship can take it,” one cries.
The Dietrich Blue Devils are the embodiment of ludicrous speed, and the crowd that watches each game is the crew. Dietrich is a team that races up the floor and attacks the basket faster than those in the stands think the players can handle.
But can they ever.
Dietrich blitzed and sped its way past a very good Rockland team 75-52 in a state tournament semifinal game Friday afternoon at Caldwell High School.
With the win, the defending champion Blue Devils book a spot in today’s title game.
“This is really special,” said Dietrich head coach Wayne Dill. “We’ve never had a Dietrich team go to back-to-back title games. This one is just as special as last year.”
“Having made it there last year, we knew what it took to get there,” said Dietrich guard Garrett Astle. “Us seniors, we didn’t want to end our season here at Caldwell High School.”
Dietrich hit the ground running in the opening minutes, the Blue Devils’ shoes wearing tracks into the floor as their offense shifted into gear. Astle scored the first basket, and Kade Shaw followed it up with a 3.
Before the crowd had a chance to settle in, Dietrich led 11-0 and was hungry for more.
“The motivation of being able to play for a title really got us going today,” Shaw said. “We know where we want to be and how to get there.”
After the first period, the Blue Devils led 21-9.
Many teams like to play the game of basketball fast, but Dietrich takes it to another level. Its offense is predicated on signs its guards get from reading the defense. Essentially the Blue Devils make you feel like you should have zigged when you zagged, and then force you to zag while they use their zig play the next time down.
In short, Dietrich’s offense is nearly impossible to contain.
“Some people called it, ‘Read and react,’ I call it, ‘If this, then this,” Dill said. “We run this every day in practice. We take time every day to work on our full-court speed game. When a team does something different to us, we figure out how to counter it. If you attack the floor right, the defense eventually runs out of players.”
“Coach likes to call it controlled chaos,” Astle said. “Fast is our game and we like it. It’s what we do best.”
Dietrich led 46-28 at the half.
“You couldn’t ask for a better half of basketball than what we did today,” Dill said.
The third quarter was something completely different. With the big lead, the Blue Devils tried to slow things down and burn as much clock as possible. For a team that doesn’t include “slow” in its vocabulary, the result was series of quasi-awkward dribbling and passing as it reluctantly fought its desire to attack the rim.
Dietrich only scored two baskets in the third quarter, but still held a double-digit lead heading into the fourth, 51-36.
“It’s pretty hard to slow down because we just want to run,” Shaw said. “Once we get our heads right we can do it.”
The final period predominantly featured the Blue Devils at their best. Once the reserves were inserted into the game in the final minutes, Dietrich began to celebrate its second straight trip to the 1A D-II championship game.
Dietrich got 15 points from both Astle and Shaw on the day, while Jake Smith and Porter Robertson added 10 apiece. Junior center Slade Dill had nine.
Dietrich will face Genesis Prep Saturday in the championship at 9:15 a.m. at the Idaho Center in Nampa. The Blue Devils are looking for their second straight state title.
“I have a really special bunch of guys,” Dill said. “They come to play every day. We’re in pretty good shape. We have to keep our heads in it. Just because we got there last year, doesn’t mean we don’t have to come and play. We can’t overlook them.”
“We’ve worked for it our whole lives to be able to play on that big floor,” Shaw said.
Dietrich 75, Rockland 52
Dietrich; 21; 25; 5; 24;-75
Rockland; 9; 19; 8; 16;-52
K. Shaw 15, Dill 9, Astle 15, Tew 9, Smith 10, P. Robertson 10, R. Robertson 2, Pizano 2, T. Shaw 2, Higley 1 Totals 23 24-33 75.
See photo gallery of Dietrich basketball at magicvalley.com