TWIN FALLS — With a district championship berth on the line, the Burley High School boys basketball team played perhaps its best game of the season.
The second-seeded Bobcats took an early lead, halted every Twin Falls run and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 61-46 win over the top-seeded Bruins. In the process, Burley reached the district title game and clinched a 4A state tournament berth.
“We wanted that. We got that,” Burley coach Trent Whiting said. “We played for a reason today.”
Burley lost its first two games of the season — to 4A District 5’s Preston and Century — but quickly bounced back. After losing again to Preston, the two-time defending state champion, the Bobcats rolled through January with nine straight wins.
In fact, Burley has been on a roll since that second loss to Preston in December, with only one defeat in 13 games going into Saturday. That defeat was at home to Twin Falls.
The Bruins used that win and a coin flip to earn the No. 1 seed at the GBC tournament, and that led to a home game on Saturday.
If Twin Falls had any homecourt advantage, Burley quickly extinguished it.
The Bobcats built a 13-4 lead late into the first quarter, thanks in large part to the two-way impact of 6-foot-10 senior Andrew Ferrin. In one short stretch, Ferrin blocked two shots, sunk a post shot and delivered an assist, which gave Burley the nine-point lead.
Ferrin finished with 13 points and a game-high eight rebounds. He was 6-of-7 on field goals, three of which were slam dunks.
“We told our big guy, Andrew, that it was all up to him because their post players are freaking good,” Burley senior Ryan Bagley said. “We told him we’d work around him, and we did.”
And yet, Ferrin was matched, if not overshadowed, by Bagley. The senior guard scored a game-high 22 points on efficient shooting: 6-of-9 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Bagley beat the buzzer with a deep step-back at the end of the third quarter to give the Bobcats a 45-29 lead.
“I just had a lot of energy because I felt like it was gonna be a different outcome than at our place,” Bagley said.
Burley’s lead grew as high as 23 points late in the fourth quarter, prompting substitutions for the starters who built the huge cushion.
“It stung a little bit losing to them at our place, so we had to put on a show,” Bagley said. “It was our best game we’ve played all year.”
The Bobcats shot 52.4 percent from the field and held Twin Falls to 30.2 percent. Faust Ystueta led the Bruins with 11 points but needed 11 shots to do it.
“Both ends of the court, we played the best basketball we have,” Ferrin said. “Hopefully, we can do that up at state.”
Burley (18-4) won’t play again until Thursday, while Twin Falls, Minico and Wood River will decide who the other district title game participant will be. The Bruins (13-10) will play at home on Tuesday against the winner of Monday’s game between No. 3 Minico and No. 6 Wood River.