KIMBERLY — In a battle of teams whose seasons had seemingly been headed on opposite trajectories, it would have been easy to see the Kimberly High School boys basketball team dispatching of Buhl handily when the two met on Wednesday.
However, that was hardly the case.
The Indians came out firing and tested the Bulldogs’ resolve, but, in the end, the team atop the Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference was able to pull out a victory, defeating the Indians, 46-35.
“The kids did a nice job understanding a couple adjustments we wanted to make,” Garey said. “They executed really well in the second half.”
Kimberly (7-3, 2-0), which came in at 3A’s No. 4 spot in the state media poll released on Tuesday, didn’t start poorly, head coach Daren Garey said. But, Buhl (2-10, 0-1) opened the contest quite well.
Garey said the senior-laden Buhl squad always plays his Bulldogs tough, and Wednesday night was no different.
“They came out of the gates and hit a couple 3’s,” Garey said. “We knew we were in for a tough one right off the bat.”
The Bulldogs led, 12-11, after one quarter and were able to extend their lead to four at halftime. The Indians were by no means going to roll over easily, despite what their record might indicate.
Garey said he knows Buhl has played a difficult schedule, which includes plenty of games against teams in higher classifications, and felt their lackluster record is rather deceiving. However, he knew on Wednesday that the record meant nothing as his team was clinging to a tight lead.
In the second half, the Bulldogs were able to play their style a bit more, something that was taken away by Buhl in the first half, Garey said. Kimberly was slowed down early, but sped things up and got to run in transition more in the third quarter, and it paid off.
Senior Blake Phillips, who scored six points on the night, contributed all six on two 3-pointers as part of an 18-9 run in the third quarter to help Kimberly pull away.
“It helps when we have some kids step up and hit some shots,” Garey said.
Buhl outscored Kimberly, 11-9, in the final period, but it wasn’t enough to make a real mark in the final score, as Kimberly handed the Indians their first conference loss of the season.
Senior Braxton Hammond led all scorers with 18 for Kimberly, while his classmate Tristyn O’Donnell added 11. Senior Adam Lauda led Buhl with 11.
The Bulldogs entered Wednesday’s contest on the back of a difficult 73-71 loss at Sugar-Salem on Saturday, one where Garey said he felt his team just ran out of time.
It was important to him and the Bulldogs that they get back on track against Buhl, and they did.
“The kids did a nice job tonight of responding,” Garey said. “They responded well from that loss and came out with a lot of intensity.”