BOISE — The hoop was Jace Whiting’s best friend on Thursday night.
The junior dropped 21 points, including three 3-pointers, to help push the Bobcats past Vallivue 69-50 in the opening round of the 4A boys basketball state tournament.
Whiting, listed at 5-foot-9, may be one of the shortest players on the court, but his speed, shot and driving ability make up for his stature. Layups, 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers — they all were falling in his 9-for-13 shooting performance.
“The net was big for him tonight,” said Burley head coach Trent Whiting, Jace’s father.
Jace also threw up some shots from a few feet past the arc — even a couple Trent said “maybe we didn’t want” — with that same confident stroke.
“I just feel like I can shoot from wherever,” Jace said. “My coaches have confidence in me.”
Jace said his shot felt good, but he also credited Burley’s big posts, Andrew Ferrin and Jackson Hill, for making his work on the fly easier.
“When they’re playing well, it opens up lanes to the baskets,” he said.
Ferrin and Hill were two of Burley’s four double-digit scorers, with 12 each. Ryan Bagley also added 17 points.
Ferrin added 10 rebounds for the Burley’s lone double-double in the game.
Against a relatively small Vallivue roster, Burley’s posts got to show off a little bit with seven dunks — four by Hill, three from Ferrin.
“They did a great job off of penetration and kicks, just being in the right spot where they can catch and finish,” Trent said. “If you get too far away from the basket, you can put yourself in bad positions, but they knew where to be.”
Bagley’s points came a bit quieter, especially in the first half. But he provided clean passing (seven assists) and posted big defensive minutes against Vallivue guard Amoro Lado, tied Whiting’s game-high 21 points. In the first half, though, Lado had only six points.
The defensive effort by Bagley early on was just a part of a good effort, as a whole, according to Trent.
“More than anything else, I thought our defense was good,” he said. “First quarter, we started off pretty soft, but we got better as the game went on.”
The only thing that kept Vallivue close after losing its 16-14 first quarter lead was the 3-point threat. The Falcons fired off 26 attempts, and sank nine of them, including a stretch of three in a couple minutes during the third quarter to squelch a Burley run.
Trent knew coming in that 3-point shooting was how Vallivue made its mark.
“They just shoot a lot of them,” he said. “They may not shoot a high percentage, but when they get one or two off coming down the floor, it’s hard to defend.”
Jace said that even with the scoring threats, there was “nothing that (Burley) couldn’t overcome.”
Burley will face Century for a shot at the title game. That game will start at 8 p.m. Friday back at Borah High School.
Burley 69, Vallivue 50
Vallivue 16 7 15 12 — 50
Burley 14 16 20 19 — 69
VALLIVUE (50) — Steele Hadlock 11, Gabe Gallegos 2, Gabe Childs 8, Caleb Rhoton 6, Amoro Lado 21, Jayden Moran 2.
BURLEY (69) — Brock Whitaker 3, Andrew Ferrin 12, Ryan Bagley 17, Jace Whiting 21, Cade Seely 2, Jackson Hill 12, Ben Geary 2.