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Boys basketball: Hot shooting Kimberly bests Shelley in 3A semifinal round

Shelley’s Jack Thompson (22) goes past the Kimberly defense for layup during their 3A state semifinal game Friday at Meridian High School. Photo by Willy Harris

By LUKE O’ROARK | @LukeORoark

MERIDIAN — This wasn’t the way the Shelley High School boys basketball team wanted to go out.

After a 63-43 loss to Kimberly in the 3A semifinals at Meridian High School, the Russets had to walk through Kimberly’s fans due to Shelley’s locker room being placed on the far side of Kimberly’s on a singular hallway. While the Bulldogs celebrated and took photos together, some of the Russets had bloodshot eyes as they made their way through to reunite with their families.

“Yeah, it’s rough,” said senior Mason Price, one of the final Russets to leave the locker room. “Fouling out is hard. I want to be out there for my teammates. It’s a learning experience. At the end of the day, we’re not going to remember this 20 years later. We’re all brothers still.”

Shelley (21-8), known this season for its slow starts, didn’t start slow Friday. But it wasn’t a slow start that bumped the athletic Russets off track from their quest for a 3A title.

Rather, it was a hot-shooting Kimberly team that dismantled Shelley behind 6 of 10 3-point shooting and 21 of 25 shooting from the foul line. All six 3-pointers came in the first half, breaking Shelley’s 3-2 and 1-2-2 defense.

“I told them, I played a lot of ball in high school and college and sometimes you just run into a team that’s a buzz saw,” Shelley coach Wally Foster said. “A lot of those shots they made early on were contested. They just made them.”

Tied 23 all with 2:47 left in the second quarter, Kimberly utilized a 7-0 run to garner a 30-23 halftime lead.

Behind senior guards Connor Golay and Trey Garey, Kimberly never looked back. Golay finished with 22 points — 10 coming on free throws in the fourth quarter alone. Garey finished with 18 points — frustrating Shelley’s defenders with smooth cross overs and a corner 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer that sent the Bulldog faithful in a frenzy.

Kimberly finished the night with 56 shooting from the field.

“We couldn’t get stops and get shots to fall so we started bickering,” Price said of Shelley’s frustration. “There was some internal fighting. We calmed down a little in the third quarter, but we started to pick up some fouls.”

It’s largest deficit eventually at 20, the closest Shelley got again was nine after a Stockton Cannon 3-pointer with 3:30 left in regulation. The Bulldogs made 14 free throws in the fourth quarter alone, breaking the the Russets’ late full court press. Shelley, meanwhile, shot just three free throws.

Jack Thompson had 12 points to lead Shelley, which plays eastern Idaho foe Snake River (21-3) for the 3A third place trophy today at 11 a.m. at Meridian High School. The teams split their regular season meetings.

“I just want to say I’m super proud of my kids,” Foster said. “We’ve had a great year and it’s been a fun experience for me as first-year coach. I made some mistakes, just as many as the kids if not more. Hopefully we learn from it and come back better.”

Shelley 14 9 9 11 — 43
Kimberly 14 16 12 21 — 63
SHELLEY (43) — Jack Thompson 12, Mason Price 9, Peyton Whitaker 2, Brandon McBride 2, Kimbal Smith 9, Payton Nelson 2, Stockon Cannon 7. FG: 17. FT: 3-3. 3-pointers: 6 (Smith 3, Thompson 2, Cannon 1). Total fouls: 21. Fouled out: Price.
KIMBERLY (63) — Connor Golay 22, Gage Burnham 2, Blake Phillips 1, Dawson Cummins 6, Trey Garey 18, Trityn O’Donnell 4, Braxton Hammond 2, Taylor Halcomb 8. FG: 18. FT: 21-25. 3-pointers: 6 (Golay 2, Cummins 2, Garey 2). Total fouls: 13. Fouled out: none.

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