NAMPA — The last time the Kimberly High School boys basketball team reached the state title game, in 2008, they lost to the Fruitland Grizzlies.
A decade later, the Bulldogs got their shot at a revenge on Saturday, but the No. 1-ranked Grizzlies were too much for them, winning the 3A state title game 62-41. Kimberly (20-6) also saw its win streak end at 12 games.
The shooting struggles for Kimberly started early. It scored only two points through the first four minutes of play off a layup by Noah Mooney.
The Bulldogs rallied for eight points in the final three minutes of the first quarter, but in the second, they began to fall apart.
Fruitland stretched an 18-3 run for almost the length of the second frame. Offensively, the Grizzlies had little trouble penetrating the paint during the stretch, and were able to kick out for a couple 3-pointers when the Bulldogs’ pressure got to them.
Kimberly’s offense couldn’t neutralize Fruitland’s, and the Bulldogs finished the half shooting 22.2 percent from the field and 1-for-9 from 3-point range. They trailed 32-17.
Kimberly head coach Daren Garey said the struggles weren’t just because of the low field goal percentage.
“Defensively, we weren’t very good,” he said, “and it was because we weren’t communicating on things we should have been communicating on. It wasn’t just that. Our rebounding, we’d been dominating teams with our rebounds, but we couldn’t rebound. We gave up loose balls and turned it over more times in the first half than we had in a long time.”
Kimberly came out with a quick 6-0 punch in the third quarter, but once again, Fruitland’s offense stepped up, converting a couple and-ones.
Kimberly scored the most points in the each of last two quarters at 12 apiece, but the Grizzlies kept out of reach.
Sophomore Dawson Cummins scored five points in the last minutes en route to a team-high 10 points for Kimberly. Seniors Trey Garey and Connor Golay both added eight points.
Fruitland’s Jake O’Neil led the game with 20.
This year’s tournament was the first taste of playoff action for every Bulldog. Kimberly’s last postseason appearance came in 2011, when it went two-and-out against Snake River and Priest River. Daren Garey said that inexperience seemed to play a bit of a factor against Fruitland.
“The stage led us to a poor start a little bit,” he said. “It would’ve been nice if we were a little bit more used to being in that spot.”
It was a tough loss for Daren and a bittersweet moment with his son Trey, who graduates this academic year and will play at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. But he felt that affection for all six of his seniors.
“I’ve been coaching them for so long,” he said. “Part of the reason I think we made this run was how great of kids they are and how hard they worked. They work for each other.”
Fruitland 62, Kimberly 41
Fruitland 14 18 14 16 — 62
Kimberly 10 7 12 12 — 41
FRUITLAND (62) — Joe Henggeler 5, Jayden Stice 6, Josh Henggeler 4, Cole Eiguren 10, Jake O’Neil 20, Hunter Stampfli 4, Colton Capps 3, Jacob Richins 4, Drake Stampfli 6.
KIMBERLY (41) — Connor Golay 8, Gage Burnham 3, Blake Phillips 5, Noah Mooney 7, Dawson Cummins 10, Trey Garey 8.