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Boys basketball: Analyzing each classification’s District tournament

Madison players celebrate defeating Hillcrest 63-53, becoming the years No. 1 seed in 5A District 5-6 on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

By LUKE O’ROARK | Post Register
Loroark@Postregister.com

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — boys basketball district playoffs.

Following the conclusion of the regular season Friday night, the seeding for the upcoming District 5-6 tournaments are set in stone.

Here’s how each classification pans out.

5A

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13 through Feb. 22

Where: High seed hosts

Seeds: No. 1 Madison (7-1), No. 2 Hillcrest (6-2), No. 3 Highland (4-4), No. 4 Rigby (2-6), No. 5 Bonneville (1-7)

First-round byes: Hillcrest

Hillcrest’s Parker Boyle presses down court as Madison High School takes on Hillcrest High School on Wednesday, February 7, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Teams to state: 2

Matchups: No. 1 Madison vs. No. 5 Bonneville at Madison, Tuesday, Feb. 13/ No. 3 Highland vs. No. 4 Rigby at Highland, Tuesday, Feb. 13/ No. 2 Hillcrest will play the winner of Highland-Rigby Thursday, Feb. 15.

Notes: Last Wednesday, Madison coach Travis Schwab said “he would be shocked” if, during the preseason, somebody told him Madison would be the No. 1 seed in this year’s High Country Conference.

Well, Madison is — for the second straight season — after beating Hillcrest 63-53 in Rexburg.

The Bobcats will meet with the fifth seeded Bonneville Bees Tuesday night in Rexburg. Tip off is at 7 p.m.

Madison won the season series 2-0 and outscored Bonneville 140-93.

After garnering the No. 4 seed, Rigby will meet Highland in Pocatello Tuesday. The two teams split the season series, with Rigby winning the first game 74-72 before losing to Highland 56-44 in the second meeting.

The winner of Rigby-Highland will play No. 2 seed Hillcrest. Hillcrest has not made the state tournament since 2010, when the program was still in 4A.

“In our district? No,” said Hillcrest coach Dave Austin when asked about the importance of district seeding. “Obviously, you want the one seed so you can play at home, and it’s a tough place to play up here in Madison, but they can be beat on their home floor. Anybody in our district can beat anybody on any given night.”

4A

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13 through Thursday, Feb. 22

Where: High seed hosts

Seeds: No. 1 Preston (10-0), No. 2 Idaho Falls (6-4), No. 3 Skyline (5-5, won coin toss), No. 4 Century (5-5, loss coin toss), No. 5 Blackfoot (3-7), No. 6 Pocatello (1-9)

First-round byes: Preston, Idaho Falls

Tigers’ Kalvin Bowen guards Grizzlies’ Carson Ricks as Skyline High School takes on Idaho Falls High School on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Teams to state: 2

Matchups: No. 4 Century vs. No. 5 Blackfoot at Century, Tuesday, Feb. 13/ No. 3 Skyline vs. No. 6 Pocatello at Skyline, Tuesday, Feb. 13/ Highest seed plays at No. 1 Preston, Thursday, Feb. 15/ Lowest seed plays at No. 2 Idaho Falls Thursday, Feb. 15

Notes: Preston has been ranked 4A’s best team in state media polls throughout the season. The last time the Indians lost? Feb. 21 against Idaho Falls — this year’s No. 2 seed — in the district tournament. The Tigers were then the No. 3 seed.

After losing 10 of its first 13 games, Idaho Falls has won five of its previous eight to earn this year’s second seed. Behind Kalvin Bowen, who has scored 14-plus points during the previous eight games, the Tigers have locked in this year’s two seed.

At the No. 3 seed, Skyline will look to advance further than last year’s tournament, which saw the Grizzlies be swept by Blackfoot and Pocatello.

After starting conference play 5-1, Skyline has lost four consecutive, including a 58-55 loss to Idaho Falls on Jan. 31. Skyline will play No. 6 Pocatello, who the Grizzlies swept this regular season.

For Blackfoot, this year’s No. 5 seed, the Broncos will play No. 4 Century in Pocatello this Tuesday. Century split its season series with Century, as the Broncos have not been to the state tournament since 2009.

3A

When: Monday, Feb. 12 through Saturday, Feb. 24

Where: Rexburg

Seeds: No. 1 Sugar-Salem (6-0), No. 2 Shelley (4-2), No. 3 South Fremont (2-4), No. 4 Teton (0-6)

First-round byes: none

Teams to state: 1.5

Matchups: No. 1 Sugar-Salem vs. No. 4 Teton, Monday, Feb. 12. at 6 p.m./No. 2 Shelley vs. No. 3 South Fremont, Monday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Notes: When it comes to 3A District 6, Sugar-Salem and Shelley will be the teams to beat.

Shelley’s Mason Price presses down court as Shelley High School takes on Sugar-Salem High School on Friday, February 9, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

The two rivals have played each other competitively this season, as the difference between the two teams is just five points.

As for South Fremont and Teton, the two teams will look to upset the recent 3A favorites. Since 2009, Sugar-Salem and/or Shelley have been to every 3A boys basketball state tournament. South Fremont last made it in 2016.

No. 1 Sugar-Salem will play No. 4 Teton Monday night before No. 2 Shelley plays No. 3 South Fremont. Sugar-Salem swept Teton this regular season. Shelley swept South Fremont this regular season, too.

Teton has not made the state tournament in boys basketball since 1997, when it won the state title.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times,” Sugar-Salem coach Shawn Freeman said Friday. ” But we’re willing to take our chances on that. You always want to come off a win, but (seeding) doesn’t always matter … Conference tournament time, it’s 0-0. It’s always a reset button.”

2A

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13 though Friday, Feb. 23 (if necessary)

Where: St. Anthony

Seeds: No. 1 Ririe (7-1), No. 2 Firth (6-2), No. 3 North Fremont (5-3), No. 4 West Jefferson (2-6), No. 5 Salmon (0-8)

First-round byes: Firth

Teams to state: 2

Matchups: No. 1 Ririe vs. No. 5 Salmon, Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m./ No. 3 North Fremont vs. No. 4 West Jefferson, Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m./ No. 2 Firth will play winner of North Fremont-West Jefferson Wednesday, Feb. 14

Notes: One of the most competitive classifications in the region, 2A will see North Fremont’s Garrett Hawkes, Ririe’s Michael Ure, Firth’s Grayson Nelson, West Jefferson’s Braxton Ramirez and Salmon’s Hunter Tarkalson all in one gym. And that’s just naming a few solid 2A players.

No matter if you’re a fan or a spectator, the Nuclear conference should be fun this season.

North Fremont’s Garrett Hawkes moves the ball down court as Firth High School takes on North Fremont High on Thursday, January 25, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

With Ririe at the one seed, the three top seeds in 2A all have five-or-more wins in conference play this season.

Ririe’s only loss in conference this season was against North Fremont on Jan. 9. The Bulldogs have won seven consecutive since.

Firth, however, has history on its side. The Cougars have made the state tournament every year since 2007.

Ririe was state runner up in 2017, West Jefferson made it in 2016 and North Fremont made it in 2014.

The last time Salmon made a state appearance was 2000, when the Savages were the A-2 runner up.

1A, DI

When: Wednesday, Feb. 14 through Thursday, Feb. 22 (if necessary)

Where: Terreton

Seeds: none, it’s a best-of-3 series

First-round byes: none

Teams to state: 1

Matchups: (Game 1) Challis vs. Grace, Wednesday, Feb. 14/(Game 2) Challis vs. Grace, Tuesday, Feb. 20/(Game 3, if necessary) Challis vs. Grace, Thursday, Feb. 22

Notes: The High Desert Conference is simple: the winner of a best-of-3 series heads to state. If the teams split the first two meetings, a Game 3 will be necessary in determining the winner. Challis (10-10) lost to Grace (14-6) during both regular season meetings this winter.

Challis last made the boys basketball state tournament in 2015.

1A, DII

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13 though Saturday, Feb. 24

Where: Opening round at high seed/rest of tournament at Firth

Seeds: No. 1 Rockland, No. 2 Bute County, No. 3 Mackay, No. 4 North Gem, No. 5 Watersprings, No. 6 Clark County, No. 7 Sho-Ban

First-round byes: Rockland

Teams to state: 2

Matchups: No. 4 North Gem vs. No. 5 Watersprings, Tuesday, Feb. 13 at North Gem/ No. 3 Mackay vs. No. 6 Clark County, Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Mackay/No. 2 Butte County vs. No. 7 Sho-Ban Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Butte County

Notes: At this point, there is no hiding what the other 1A, DII team is doing. Every team in this conference has played each other at least twice already.

While local teams have made the 1A, DII state tournament in recent years (Butte in ‘17/Clark in ‘16/Mackay in ‘15), Rockland will be the team to beat. The Bulldogs have made the state tournament every year since 2014.

Update: Information regarding the 4A District 5-6 tournament has been updated. 

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