BOISE — Please excuse the Declo High School boys basketball team for just a little bit of jealousy.
The Declo players who weren’t on the football team saw their buddies put championship hardware in the trophy case this fall, and they’re wanting a little for themselves.
“We may have a little bit of a chip on our shoulders,’’ Declo senior guard Trey Smyer said. “The football team won a state title, so we’d like to win one, too.’’
Declo took the first step toward a title with a 54-37 win over Cole Valley Christian in the first round of the 2A state tournament Thursday at Capital High School. The Hornets lost to Bear Lake 58-33 in the first round last season.
“We were focused today,’’ Declo coach Jacoby Fox said. “Last year, the first game I think we lost a little focus, but today we were in it from the start. We were concentrated on the ‘here and now’ for the full 32 minutes.’’
The first half was 16 minutes of runs, with Cole Valley (15-8) putting together a 7-0 spurt before the Hornets came back with a 10-0 answer to lead 25-20 at the break. After that, it was all Declo.
“These kids buy in to what we want them to do,’’ Fox said. “We’ve stressed defense all year, and they buy in to that.
“We know those guys. We studied them extensively, and we knew they could put up the points. To hold an offensive team like Cole Valley to 37 points, that’s impressive. Our pressure got to them a little, and it got us some more offensive possessions.’’
Cole Valley coach Brennan Koch agreed with his counterpart.
“They’re a sound basketball team. The second half they really took us out of what we like to do,’’ said the Chargers coach, whose team was led by Jake Couch’s 14 points. “It was a good game to start, but we couldn’t answer their pressure, and they really put it to us.’’
The Hornets finally broke away in the third quarter on a long 3-pointer from Smyer, who finished with a game-high 18 points (7-of-14 from the field, 4-of-8 from 3). Then, 6-foot-5 post Bart Gibby took over. The junior finished with a game-high 13 rebounds and added 16 points, including 10 of the Hornets’ final 14 points.
“We’re not the most talented team here, but we’ll get down and physically go at you, no matter who we’re playing,’’ Smyer said. “We’ll get down and go at you for 32 minutes. That’s us.’’
Declo (20-5) will need that Friday in the semifinals against Bear Lake (22-3), which beat North Fremont 60-40 in the tournament opener. The Bears are defending 2A state champions and the No. 1-ranked team in the 2A media poll, and they’re riding a 14-game win streak into the semifinal game.
“We know they’re the defending champs. We were up on them early last year before we kind of lost focus,’’ Smyer said. “This year we just have to keep going at them. We just have to fundamentally do it right and we’ll be okay.’’
Declo 54, Cole Valley Christian 37
Declo 12 13 17 12 — 54
Cole Valley 13 7 12 5 — 37
DECLO (54) — Keegan Duncan 9, Trey Smyer 18, Tanner Schroeder 5, Garrett Darrington 4, Bart Gibby 16, Tyson Matthews 2.
COLE VALLEY (37) — Jake Couch 14, Dylan Krogh 4, Blake Weimer 1, Ricky Golenor 2, Nathan Wetzel 4, Nathanael Fehringer 7, Ryan Beglinger 3, Ryan Olson 2.