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Boys basketball: Thomas leads Snake River past Sugar-Salem

By LUKE O’ROARK | Post Register | Loroark@postregister.com
MORELAND — Sugar-Salem High School boys basketball coach Shawn Freeman called Snake River forward Clancy Thomas one of the best players in Idaho before Tuesday night’s tipoff between the two 3A powerhouses.

By the time the two squads left the Panthers’ gym, Thomas had proven Freeman’s high praise correct. 

Thomas almost notched a double-double — 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks — to help Snake River beat the Diggers 58-43. It’s the second time the Panthers (11-0), who are ranked No. 1 in 3A in the Idaho state media poll, beat the Diggers (8-4), ranked No. 3, this season.

“I’ve been here 25 years, he’s gotta be one of the best I’ve ever had,” Snake River coach Bob Coombs said of Thomas. “I think he’s a complete player. Shoot the ball from the perimeter. He’s quick for his size. You don’t see kids, even at the next level, handle it as well as he does.”

Thomas had some help Tuesday night, though, in a packed Snake River gym.

Buxton Dawson had 12 and Matt Kracl added nine and after leading by six points heading into the fourth, the Panthers used a 10-point final quarter to maintain their winning streak.

Coombs complimented Kade Mortensen, who returned from an ankle injury to score nine points Tuesday. Six of Mortensen’s points came in the fourth quarter.

“They are 11-0 for a reason,” Freeman said. “They’ve got a lot of pieces back from last year and we knew they would be tough.”

Snake River has not lost since losing to Sugar-Salem during last year’s 3A title game.

“We still have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Coombs said.

Chip on their shoulders or not, the Panthers survived a third-quarter push by the Diggers. Trailing 30-18 at halftime, Sugar-Salem outscored Snake River 15-9 in the third behind Dan Shirley’s five-point quarter.

Sugar-Salem, despite an abundance of involvement from role players, could not break Snake River’s variant defenses — halfcourt traps, man-to-man or 2-3 zone — late. Snake River sealed the win with late-game free throws, prompting the Panthers’ student section to chant: “Warm up the buses.”

The Diggers drop their second in four games — both losses coming to the Panthers.

Chandler Pincock led with 12 points, Tom Baldwin had eight points and Curtis Drake added seven for the Diggers, who host Filer on Friday. Snake River hosts Teton on Thursday.

“(Pincock’s) a good scorer, but we just missed a lot of layups in big moments,” Freeman said. “We got there, we just couldn’t get over the hump.”


Snake River 17 13 9 10 — 58

Sugar-Salem 12 6 15 10 — 43

SNAKE RIVER (58) — Clancy Thomas 17, Buxton Dawson 12, Carson Dance 4, Coby Young 5, Kade Mortensen 9, Matt Kracl 9, Crieghton McCraw 2. FG: 19. 3-pointers: 2 (Mortensen, Dawson). FT: 18-22. Fouls: 8. Fouled out: none.

SUGAR-SALEM (43) — Chandler Pincock 12, Hadley Miller 6, Dan Shirley 5, Tom Baldwin 8, Pasen Michaelson 5, Curtis Drake 7. FG: 18. 3-pointers: 6 (Pincock, Michaelson, Drake, Shirley, Miller 2). FT: 3-7. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: none.


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