JEROME — Murtaugh High School senior Jenna Benites wasn’t paying any attention to her opposition. Instead, she was just zoned in on her own basket.
Competing in the 3-point contest at halftime of the District 4 all-star basketball game, several girls were called to action, trying to best one another at each end of the court. Benites and Dietrich senior Matigan Bingham tied at 13 apiece in the first round, leaving them to a one-minute, winner-take-all duel.
For Benites, although it was all in good fun, she could feel a couple nerves set in.
“It was so tiring coming off as soon as we were done playing in the first half,” Benites said. “I got a little bit of a break but, once you did the first one, there was a little bit of pressure, too.”
Benites, the Sawtooth Conference offensive player of the year this past season, bested Bingham, 9-8, in the end, highlighting the entertaining side of a night that sets out to honor the Magic Valley’s seniors after standout seasons on the court, giving them a bit of a carefree way to end their high school basketball careers.
“This season with Murtaugh was a lot of fun,” Benites said. “Then coming here and having the chance to play with these guys was really fun, too.”
The game itself must’ve been fun for Benites, whose west team dominated the east side in an 83-47 victory.
Gooding’s Grace Parker was the high scorer for the west, pouring in 19 points, while Benites added 11 and Buhl’s Emily Gorrell scored 10.
Canyon Ridge’s Grace Lupumpa and Twin Falls’ Gracie Mumford each had eight, Mountain Home’s Jazzi Cristobal had 7, Mountain Home’s Emalee Pippen hasd six, Mountain Home’s Adrie Blanksma had five and Hagerman’s Alana Floyd added two.
The east team was led by Minico’s Taylia Stimpson, who had 13 points. Declo’s Mattie Ramsey chipped in 12, while Kimberly’s Josie Schmitz had nine.
Wood River’s Patrea Topp scored five, Bingham and Minico’s Maddison Vorwaller had three apiece adn Shoshone’s Cierra Hennings added two.
The boys game was another blowout that featured its own halftime competition, as seven different seniors attempted to throw down the best dunks of the night.
Wood River’s Brayden Olson, Buhl’s Adam Lauda, Filer’s Kaden Perron, Valley’s Zane Mussmann, Mountain Home’s Jared Adams and the Twin Falls duo of Mitchell Brizee and Faust Ystueta all competed.
In the end, it was Brizee and Lauda who advanced to the finals, where Lauda was able to win, thanks to an impressive reverse dunk off an alley-oop from Ystueta, who Lauda said has never thrown him one before in his life.
There was little, if any, preparation at all for the contest from its eventual winner.
“My parents told me there was a dunk contest, like, five minutes before the game started,” Lauda said. “We just kinda threw it all together. Whatever we had in the bag, we just brought it out.”
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Like with Benites winning the 3-point contest and the game, Lauda’s team dominated, as the west won, 82-60.
Adams led all scorers with 22 points for the west, while Ystueta had 16, Brizee had 13, Buhl’s Carter Kelsey had nine and Lauda added eight.
Jerome’s James Slone and Twin Falls’ Winston Duggan each had five, while Perron and Glenns Ferry’s Wacey Williams added two points apiece.
The east team was led by Raft River’s Riley Spencer with 13 points. Olson and Murtaugh’s Gio Zavala also reached double figures with 11 apiece.
Minico’s Abe Guzman scored nine, Valley’s Jason Hardy chipped in eight, Kimberly’s Tristyn O’Donnell had four and Hansen’s Paxton Stimpson, along with Valley’s Zane Mussmann, each had two.
For most of the players, regardless of their output on the night, it was an enjoyable experience to get one more night on the floor.
“It’s awesome,” Lauda said. “It was a good way to just kinda go out on top, I guess.”