BURLEY – Not satisfied with just clinching spots in the upcoming 4A state basketball tournament, Jerome and Burley took the floor Friday night eyeing a district championship to use as a springboard into the big dance next week.
To the white and green-clad victors go the spoils.
Led by Swiss Army Knife guard Ryan Bagley, the Bobcats took control of a tight game in the fourth quarter and raced to a 58-47 victory over Jerome to claim the district tournament title Friday night at Burley High School.
“It’s been a long time since we cut down our net,” said Burley head coach Jack Bagley. “The environment and the atmosphere for our school were awesome. “
“This is a big for us, to win the conference,” said Burley junior Ryan Bagley. “It’s good to have the No. 1 seed heading into the state tournament.”
The contrasting styles of each team shone through early on. Burley wanted to race up a down the floor in a sort of controlled chaos scheme; Jerome tried to slow things down and limit opponent possessions, while maximizing its own.
Midway through the first period the Bobcats led 3-0, but Jordin Myers finally got the Tigers on the board with a layup. Things picked up from there as each side found its footing in its own time.
Burley held a 9-7 lead after one.
Jerome imprinted its style in the second quarter as senior Logan Geist carried his squad offensively. While it seemed Burley had all the momentum, the Tigers’ scheme and ruthless execution allowed them to stay in the game, something that has been a theme for them all season.
For the Bobcats, senior post Coty Hackett put on a shooting clinic. At 6-foot-7, his finesse and touch surprises opponents. He hit jump shot after jump shot in the second quarter.
“Hitting those shots was big. It was big,” Hackett said. “Once we got a lead, we were able to control things.”
Hackett had 12 points in the first half.
“He can step out and hit those shots,” Jack Bagley said.
While still kept the game tight, and the Bobcats went into the locker room at the half on top 21-19.
The Tigers came out swinging in the third period as Geist, Jordin Myers and Brien Ploss found their shooting touches. Long-range threes started falling, which opened up the lane for drives to the hole.
“I told the kids that we were fine,” Jack Bagley said about the deficit. “There was a lot of time left. We just had to get some stops on defense, and we were able to do that.”
Jerome led by as many as six points before Burley stormed back and took a lead in the closing seconds of the quarter.
The Bobcats may as well refer to the fourth quarter as “Ryan Bagley time.” The junior guard took over for Burley when it needed him the most. He drove into the paint with ruthless aggression and finished a number of difficult layups. Bagley finished the night with 19 points after his offensive explosion in the final eight minutes.
“I knew they were in foul trouble, so if we kept attacking and get to the free throw line, we had a good chance to win,” Ryan Bagley said. “We hit those free throws and finished strong.”
A 2-point deficit quickly became a 10-point lead for Burley.
Bagley put an exclamation point on the district tournament as he threw down a vicious dunk in the closing seconds of the game, sending the Bobcat faithful into a frothing frenzy.
Burley got 19 points from both Hackett and Bagley. Ace Christiansen added six.
“This means everything to us,” Hackett said. “We wanted to win one for our city, for our school, for our community. We have to keep our heads as we head to state.”
Burley takes on Vallivue on Thursday at 8 p.m. and hopes to continue its dominating ways.
“We won the district tournament, and all of our wins have been by double digits,” Jack Bagley said. “I think we have a really tough conference, one of the toughest in the state. To come out of here No. 1 from this conference, I like our chances.”
Burley 58, Jerome 47
Burley 58, Jerome 47
Burley 9 12 15 22;-58
Jerome 7 12 19 9;-47
Bagley 19, Hackett 19, Whitaker 5, Ferrin 4, Hill 5, Christiansen 6, Totals 21 14-20 58.
Geist 18, Ploss 5, Cook 14, Myers 7, Nordquist 3 Totals 15 11-16 47.