TWIN FALLS — Wednesday's Great Basin Conference tournament had a little bit of everything: repeat winners, fresh blood, upsets, dominance and tight finishes.
Twin Falls High School — the host school — and Wood River finished the tournament with the most to smile about. The Twin girls earned their fourth straight district team title, while the Wood River boys won their first title since 2014.
The Wood River boys had nothing to sweat by the end of the GBC tournament. The Wolverines finished with 63 points, nearly twice as many as second-place Twin.
The girls side was polar opposite. Twin and Burley tied for first with 42.5 points, and Canyon Ridge had 42. The Bruins kept their girls title streak going thanks to a tiebreaker — they had more players in championship matches than Burley did.
Twin was the only school to finish with multiple champions, taking both singles matches. Top-seeded Matthew Sato swept second-seeded Jack Keating, of Wood River (6-1, 6-4), and second-seeded Maddie Aardema beat top-seeded Bethany Romney, of Canyon Ridge (6-3, 6-2).
Sato is used to winning district titles, but this is his first singles gold medal. The senior took first in boys doubles as a freshman and sophomore, and he took second to then-senior Cole Hunt of Canyon Ridge last season. Hunt finished second at the 2016 4A state tournament, and Sato took third.
"Not having him in there is definitely favorable toward me," Sato said with a smile. "But he's a good guy. I can't say I'm happy that he's gone."
Keating tested Sato throughout the match, especially in a back-and-forth second set. But he was too much for Keating, especially on serves. Sato fired several aces in the second set.
"It's the district championship; gotta bring the best," Sato said. "I knew they were working, and that was part of the key to my success today."
Aardema's win came with some redemption. The senior lost to Romney last Tuesday, and she was seeded below the Canyon Ridge junior at the district tournament. On Wednesday, Aardema swept Romney 6-3, 6-2.
"I kinda started out playing her game, and then I kinda switched the scores to my game," Aardema said. "I was trying to get her side-to-side, moving, instead of just hitting the ball back and forth."
This is Aardema's second district championship, but like Sato, her first individual gold. She won the GBC girls doubles title as a sophomore. Wednesday's win gave her a confidence boost heading into a tough state field.
"I haven't really seen any competition outside of this area," Aardema said. "Hoping for the best. Hoping to play my game and see what happens."
Wood River earned one championship on the day. Senior Clay Cutler and freshman Nick Maumus defeated a pair of teammates in straight sets (7-6, 6-2).
"We just stopped making a lot of mistakes and kept the ball in play," Cutler said.
Cutler and Maumus have only been playing together for about a month. Now, they're eyeing medal contention at state.
Burley girls doubles tandem of Maddie Landrum and Jazzea Olsen didn't lose a set in three matches, the last of which was the championship match. They beat Twin's Ellie Manning and Emily Pilling 6-1, 6-0 to claim the top district prize.
"For us, mentality definitely dictates a lot of the game," Landrum said. "I told her, 'Let's just have fun,' and we did."
The final title was a bit of an upset. Minico juniors Koi Chandler and Hope Robbins won the mixed doubles title, despite coming into the tournament as the four seed.
Like Culter and Maumus, Chandler and Robbins have only played together for about half the season. They found a groove the last two days, beginning with a tight win semifinal win over the top seed from Wood River. They said the lower seed helped them pull off the surprising win.
"You're relaxed to play instead of being like, 'You have to win this,'" Chandler said. "It made it easier."
The top five finishes at Wednesday's tournament will represent their schools at the 4A state tournament next week, which begins on Friday in the Boise area.
Boys: 1. Wood River 63, 2. Twin Falls 33.5, 3. Canyon Ridge 30, 4. Minico 27.5, 5. Burley 13.5, 6. Jerome 11.
Girls: 1. Twin Falls 42.5*, 2. Burley 42.5, 3. Canyon Ridge 42, 4. Wood River 31, 5. Jerome 13, 6. 11.5.
*Twin Falls won via tiebreaker
First place: #1 Matthew Sato (TF) defeats #2 Jack Keating (WR) 6-1, 6-4.
Third place: #3 Landon Davidson (CR) defeats #4 Kimball Lloyd (JER) 6-0, 6-2.
Fifth place: Tyler Gerratt (BUR) defeats Colby Wilkins (MIN) 6-4, 6-2.
First place: #2 Maddie Aardema (TF) defeats #1 Bethany Romney (CR) 6-3, 6-2.
Third place: #4 Lily Brunelle (WR) defeats Kaylee Breitweiser (BUR) 6-1, 6-4.
Fifth place: Persia Thacher (CR) defeats #3 Fritzie Saz (JER) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).
First place: #2 Cutler/Maumus (WR) defeats Beste/Laski (WR) 7-6 (7-2), 6-2
Third place: Delis/Delis (MIN) defeats #4 Packham/Roberts (CR) 6-7 (7-5), 7-5, 6-3
Fifth place: Blazek/Walter (TF) defeats #3 Bowman/Mix (TF) 1-6, 6-4, 6-4
First place: #1 Olsen/Landrum (BUR) defeats #3 Manning/Pilling (TF) 6-1, 6-0.
Third place: #4 Wallace/Alexander (CR) defeats #2 Heaphy/Ayers-Doyle (WR) 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Fifth place: Graham/Beck (BUR) defeats Carter/Cox (TF) 6-3, 6-2.
First place: #4 Chandler/Robbins (MIN) defeats #3 Humble/Hamstra (CR) 7-5, 6-4.
Third place: #1 Wiander/Belioco (WR) defeats #2 Pope/David (BUR) 0-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Fifth place: Andrate/Chin (WR) defeats Morton/Cox (TF) 7-5, 6-4.