BOISE — The Twin Falls High School boys basketball team kept it close against the undefeated, No. 1-ranked Preston Indians, but ended up falling 50-37 in the first round of the 4A state tournament at Borah High School.
Though the game finished by a double-digit margin, it was close throughout the first three quarters, and Bruins head coach Matt Harr thought it was a good effort against the two-time defending state champions.
“It was a 13-point game, but it was more like a six-point game or so,” he said. “We got within a couple points throughout the game, but there’s a reason why they’re 24-0.”
After a tight first five minutes of play, Preston started to pull away heading in the into the second quarter, with a 17-10 lead at the break. But junior Faust Ystueta stepped up for the Bruins, hitting a couple of 3s and leading first-half scoring with 11 points.
However, the Indians’ defense ball-hawked Ystueta in the second half, and he went on to finish with a game-high 14 points. Harr said the absence of clean looks for his junior leader changed the offensive dynamic.
“They just got in his face a little more,” Harr said, “so we needed other guys to hit big shots. Winston (Duggan) and Drew (Meyerhoeffer) hit a couple, but overall we just needed to hit more big shots.”
The Bruins shot 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) in the second half, compared to 9-for-20 (45 percent) in the first, and scored only three points in the fourth quarter.
But Harr said Twin Falls’ play was much improved from the last matchup with Preston on Dec. 14, which the Bruins lost 55-27, and it was mostly due to an increase in defensive pressure.
“We played physical on their big guys, and we needed to play physical on everyone,” Harr said.
That physicality proved key against Preston’s leading scorer, Brayden Parker. The senior averages about 20 points per game from his post position, but Twin Falls held him to six points on the night.
Still, the Bruins had to make some defensive adjustments early on, as their man-to-man defense began to let passes to the paint slip through easily.
“They can play inside and out,” Harr said. “We had to play more zone defense tonight than we have all season.”
In turn, the ball moved from inside to out, and the Preston guards stepped up, especially Britten Atkinson. He led the Indians with 12 points, all of which came off 3-pointers, including two fourth-quarter long balls that moved their lead from six points to 13.
Harr said that one can’t look at the game without factoring in experience. All five of the Preston starters are seniors, while the Bruins field a junior-heavy team.
“They’re an experienced team, and I think our lack of experience showed a little bit,” he said.
The Bruins (14-12) moved to the consolation bracket, where they will play Friday against Moscow, which fell to No. 2 Skyview in the opening round.
Harr said he has a lot more things to focus on before he and his team think about a playoff run with his 11 juniors next year, but he told his team to remember the moment.
“I told them to keep this game tucked in the back of their minds,” he said. “Hopefully, it will motivate them.”
Preston 50, Twin Falls 37
Twin Falls 10 13 11 3 — 37
Preston 17 11 12 10 — 50
TWIN FALLS (37) — Winston Duggan 8, Drew Meyerhoeffer 7, Faust Ystueta 14, Gage Plew 1, Ryan Ball 3, Mitchell Brizee 4.
PRESTON (50) — Ty Hyde 7, Derek Wadsworth 9, Britten Atkinson 12, Kyler Burbank 5, Chance Hart 11, Brayden Parker 6.