TWIN FALLS — If you want to know the newest leader of Twin Fall High School boys basketball team, you’ve got to learn how to say “Faust Ystueta.”
Ysteuta, a junior guard, scored 21 points to lead the Bruins past Canyon Ridge 55-43 on Friday night and move 20-0 in the all-time rivalry series.
“He’s been our most consistent player,” Bruins head coach Matt Harr said. “He’s getting better and better every game.”
The shots didn’t fall early for Ystueta, and the same could be said about the entire Twin Falls offense in the first quarter. Turnovers also helped Canyon Ridge get out to a 9-8 first-quarter lead.
“We played scared,” Harr said. “We let the atmosphere control the first quarter, and I thought we were lucky to only be down one point.”
“We’ve had horrible first quarters all year,” Ysteuta added, “but we find a way in the second quarter.”
It happened again for the Bruins, who began to drive downhill on the Riverhawks in the second quarter and get to the foul line. Ysteuta, who has provided 3-point offense for Twin Falls all season long, hit a couple long balls, but provided more offense from the foul line than the 3-point line.
“I was just looking to attack the rim and cause the defense to react,” he said. “Once I started to hit a couple shots and free throws in the second quarter, we kind of built our momentum.”
Ysteuta ended the game 13-for-18 from the free-throw line, which accounted for more than half of his points in the game.
His ability to drive proved important for another reason: foul trouble early for the Bruins’ posts.
Izak Cuellar, a senior post for Canyon Ridge who didn’t play in the first rivalry game this season, created fouls with paint pressure and good rebounding, forcing starting post Mitchell Brizee to sit out the whole first half after the first three minutes. Cuellar finished with a team-high 17 points for the Riverhawks.
But with a deep bench, Harr said he had good options, and one stepped up for him: junior post Hudson Klundt.
“He had his best game tonight,” Harr said. “When he was in, we played well. He got us big rebounds.”
Canyon Ridge was able to find a few runs in the second half, but after the Bruins went up 39-25 following a technical foul on the Riverhawks’ coaching staff, they didn’t let their lead slip to fewer than 10 points.
Twin Falls used up to the clock with crisp passing in the fourth quarter, as they played keep away and ran away with the victory.
The win keeps Twin Falls undefeated in the crosstown rivalry series, but Harr said the future of the Riverhawks looks bright.
“They’ve got a good JV team moving up,” he said, “so I think it could become pretty competitive in a year or two.”
However, the Bruins have their sights on winning not just the rivalry but the conference, moving to 6-1 in the Great Basin Conference with Friday’s win. They also recently returned two seniors with experience in guard Drew Meyerhoffer and post Brandon Stotts.
Twin Falls started the year 2-6, but has rallied to go 7-2 in the last nine games, with the only losses coming to 5A Highland and Burley, the lone undefeated team in the GBC and the No. 3-ranked team in the state media poll.
After an overtime loss to the Bobcats in Twin Falls, Ysteuta said that game is fresh on his mind.
“That loss to Burley, it hurt,” he said. “Burley’s a great team, a tough team, but we’re looking forward to next time.”
Harr said that the difference in the next matchup with Burley, as well as the Bruins’ next game against a competitive Minico team, will be playing more consistently throughout the games.
“We got probably 20 good minutes tonight,” he said. “We need 25 to 28 minutes where we’re on top of it to give ourselves a chance and push into the postseason.”
Harr said he’s relying on Ystueta to help make that possible, but he’ll need help from other guys. His junior leader, though, said the Bruins’ progression through the season has given confidence to his entire team, one that’s been playing together for years now.
“We’ve always been a good group,” Ystueta said. “We’ve played a lot of games together and won a lot together, whether middle school or AAU ball. We have high expectations for this group, and we know we can make a run at state if we play together.”