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Boys basketball: Sugar-Salem beats Shelley in thriller

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

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

SHELLEY — Shelley’s Mason Price sat on the court and grimaced.

After drawing a charging foul in the fourth quarter of Friday’s intense, 3A rivalry bout between the Shelley and Sugar-Salem high school boys basketball teams, Price picked himself up and clapped towards the referees as he walked towards the defensive end.

Friday was a frustrating night for Russet fans — as it was heart stopping for the Diggers.

Shelley’s Brandon McBride is fouled by Sugar-Salem’s Hadley Miller as Shelley High School takes on Sugar-Salem High School in the last regular season game on Friday, February 9, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

After surrendering three different 10-point leads, the Diggers scrapped by the Russets 63-62 on the road to hold onto first place the conference standings and clinch the No. 1 seed heading into next week’s 3A District 6 tournament.

“They’re hard to beat here,” Sugar-Salem coach Shawn Freeman said. “They’re hard to beat anywhere. They’re one of the top teams in the state — us and Shelley are top five teams and we just had our kids playing hard. We had some good execution.”

Sugar-Salem survived a late scare as Shelley’s Brandon McBride hit a 2-point put back after a missed 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left in regulation.

But as the final buzzer sounded, Sugar-Salem walked off the court after its halfcourt offense prevented Shelley from ever taking the lead. Shelley kept the game within four points for the final five minutes of regulation.

Chandler Pincock led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Shelley had seven different scorers and scored 23 points in the fourth.

“A lot of our defense was good,” Pincock said after the game. “Just getting rebounds and finishing plays off.”

Before McBride’s put back, Shelley had come close to tying it late after Peyton Whitaker was fouled on a layup with 15.9 seconds left. He missed his free throw.

On the other end, Freeman drew up two back-to-back plays to beat Shelley’s fullcourt press to keep the Russets from ever taking the lead. One fullcourt play saw Pincock hit a euro-step layup with 1:28 left to give the Diggers a three-point lead.

McBride — who finished with a team-high 16 points — Whitaker, who had nine points, had valiant efforts off the bench. But in one of the most important regular season games of the season, Shelley’s defense was, at times, porous.

Sugar-Salem’s Chandler Pincock blocks a shot by Shelley’s Jack Thompson as Shelley High School takes on Sugar-Salem High School in the last regular season game on Friday, February 9, 2018. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

Multiple offense trips for the Diggers were finished off with easy looks Friday night. In one late fourth quarter play, Brysen Barr scored off a backdoor cut. In another, Dan Shirley, who helped Sugar-Salem with 16, drove to the right side of the basket after Shelley failed to hedge on a screen-and-roll in the third.

“We didn’t play good ‘D’ at all tonight. For whatever reason,” Shelley coach Wally Foster said. “We just couldn’t stay in front of them and we’ve been working on that.”

Despite its defensive lapses, Shelley hung in with Sugar-Salem due to athleticism and solid fastbreak opportunities.

On one play, Price saved a loose ball, spun off a defender and found Kimbal Smith for a corner pocket 3-pointer. Another saw McBride steal the ball, dribble down court and finish with a double-pump layup.

“They’re a good team. We gotta hand it to them,” Pincock said. “They’ve played us tough both games and … They’ll bring it to us at districts so gotta be ready.”

Sugar-Salem finishes its regular season at 16-5 while Shelley finishes 14-7. The Russets take the No. 2 seed into districts.

“We just dug ourselves a hole and we were playing from behind the whole game,” Foster said. “Against a good team like that you can’t let them get going and then they get cracked up and then they’re tough to stop.”

SUGAR-SALEM 63, SHELLEY 62
Sugar-Salem 17 16 16 14 — 63
Shelley 10 16 13 23 — 62
SUGAR-SALEM (63) — Dan Shirley 16, Chandler Pincock 20, Tom Baldwin 6, Tanner Harris 10, Pasen Michaelson 2, Kyler Handy 4, Brysen Barr 5. FG: 23. FT: 12-16. 3-pointers: 5 (Barr 1, Harris 1, Pincock 1, Shirley 2). Total fouls: 23. Fouled out: none.
SHELLEY (62) — Wyatt Remington 9, Mason Price 10, Peyton Whitaker 9, Brandon McBride 16, Kimbal Smith 10, Jack Thompson 6, Payton Nelson 2. FG: 21. FT: 17-24. 3-pointers: 3 (Smith 2, Price 1). Total fouls: 17. Fouled out: Whitaker.

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