The fifth overtime game of the season was the charm for the Wood River High School boys’ basketball team Saturday night in Rupert. But the Wolverines came up a little short Monday in another close one, losing 37-35 at Jerome.
Action took place in the consolation bracket of the 4A Great Basin Conference tournament with coach Andy Miles’ No. 5-seeded Wolverines (6-18) moving up a notch to finish fourth in the tourney.
Hailey’s highlight happened Saturday. Having fallen short in all four of its overtime games this season, Wood River ousted the No. 4 Minico Spartans 52-48 in the extra session.
Sophomore guard Alec Nordsieck drilled a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in regulation for a 46-46 tie, and freshman Cade Schott sank 3-of-4 clutch free throws in overtime.
Wood River, which beat Minico at home 67-49 Jan. 29 snapping a seven-season, 14-game losing skid to Spartan teams, won a tournament road game for the first time in four years. It had been seven years since Wood River last won a GBC tournament game over Minico, 61-56 in 2007 at Rupert.
Despite Monday’s narrow loss at Jerome, Wood River made progress this season.
Last year’s Wolverines finished 6-15, but lost eight of their last nine after a 5-6 start. This year, Wood River won five of its final 12 games including four wins in league play, two apiece over Minico and Canyon Ridge.
Coupled with Wood River’s 61-50 tournament win over No. 6 Canyon Ridge on Thursday—the first home district tourney win in 10 years for a Wolverine team—the Hailey boys with Saturday’s win at Minico gave second-year coach Miles his first two-game winning streak in 45 games over two campaigns.
The winning streak was nearly three games Monday.
Playing solid defense and allowing No. 3 Jerome (13-10) 11 points in the first half, Wood River vaulted to a 17-11 lead at the break. Jerome’s 7-0 run starting the third quarter gave the Tigers an 18-17 lead, then the game went back-and-forth.
Jerome crept ahead 36-30 with 1:15 to play, but a 3-pointer by junior Connor Hayes followed by a steal and coast-to-coast basket by Nordsieck cut the margin to 36-35. But that’s as close as Wood River came and Jerome stayed alive 37-35.
In his final game, senior Eron Bates (12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) led Wood River. Others were Nordsieck (6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block), Arthur Brugger (5 points, 3 rebounds), Parker Bingham (3 points, 4 boards), Hayes (3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists), Cody Carter (2 points), Kevin Hernandez (2 points) and Jon Scott (2 points, 5 boards).
Jerome advanced to play Burley (17-5) on Tuesday night, that winner earning the second GBC berth to the Idaho High School Activities Association’s State 4A tournament Thursday, March 6 at Borah High School in Boise.
Saturday’s win at Minico was improbable, but you could almost feel it coming for the talented Wolverines.
As Hailey assistant coach J.C. Nemecek said, “It was a game in which the team struggled, regained its composure and displayed its character in the final minutes.”
Wood River battled back from a 12-2 first-quarter deficit, a 15-point second quarter hole and a nine-point third quarter disadvantage.
Nordsieck (14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals) led the scoring, but the most important statistic for the Wolverines may have been their low total of 13 turnovers.
The Wolverines outscored Minico 15-6 in the fourth quarter and 6-2 in overtime. The Spartans top player, Isaiah Harris, encountered foul trouble and finally fouled out. Wood River’s top scorer, junior Cody Carter, also fouled out with 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Describing Wood River’s rally, coach Nemecek said, “Wood River closed to 44-41 with 2:42 remaining in the game and trailed 44-43 with 58.2 seconds left. Minico’s free throws gave them a 46-43 lead with 18.9 seconds left.
“The Wolverines brought the ball down the floor, patiently looked for the shot they wanted and Alec Nordsieck's 3-pointer tied the game at 1.7 seconds tied the score 46-46 at the end of regulation.
“Overtime was all Wood River. The Wolverines played strong inside defense coupled with rapid coverage on the perimeter while patiently passing the ball and using the clock on offense.”
Other Wolverine contributors were Bates (7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist), Hernandez (7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocked shots), Brugger (7 points, 6 assists, 3 steals) Parker Bingham (4 points).
On Thursday, Wood River captured its first home district tournament victory in 10 years 61-50 over the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks in Hailey.
Eliminated from the six-school 4A tournament for the last two years by Canyon Ridge, Wood River started fast and aggressively Thursday building a 19-11 first-quarter lead behind eight points by senior Kevin Hernandez.
Wood River, despite 23 turnovers against the ‘Hawks pressure man-to-man defense, played a complete team game and put four players in double figures. They were junior point guard Brugger and junior Carter with 13 points each, along with Bates 10 and Hernandez also with 10.
Coach Andy Miles’ Wolverines (5-17) snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Hailey school at district tourneys dating back to a 57-52 win at Canyon Ridge in 2010.
But you have to go all the way back to 2004, when coach Fred Trenkle’s Hailey boys beat Filer at home 52-38 in the school’s final year at the 3A level, to find Wood River’s last home win in a district meet.
“It’s good to finally get a district win,” said Miles. “We played well, start to finish.”
Hernandez was a huge factor in the first quarter with eight points and two rebounds. The Wolverines out-rebounded the ‘Hawks 8-2 in the first eight minutes and shot 4-for-4 at the free throw line.
They hammered the ball at Canyon Ridge’s man-to-man.
Miles said, “It was important for us to establish our inside game early and often. I don’t want my kids to take bad shots and that was a way to make sure we got good ones. Kevin’s scoring was huge.
“On defense we wanted to force Canyon Ridge to take shots that we felt weren’t high percentage shots.”
Wood River’s lead crested at 15 points, 43-28, when Carter drilled a 3-pointers with 58 seconds left in the third quarter. Up until the final minute of the third, Canyon Ridge had scored no field goals against Wood River’s defense.
The Riverhawks made one final push with a 15-4 run and cut the Wolverine lead to 47-43 with 4:48 left in the fourth period. At that point, Bates calmly sank two free throws and junior guards Connor Hayes drilled a 3-pointer to spark an 8-1 Hailey run that restored a 55-44 cushion with 2:38 to play.
Miles said, “When Connor hit that three, it sealed the deal for us.”
Wood River (21-of-34 from the line) cemented its victory with 14-of-23 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter. For the game, Wood River out-rebounded the ‘Hawks 32-27.
Contributors were Carter (13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocked shots), Brugger (13 points, 2 assists), Bates (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), Hernandez (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block), Hayes (8 points, 2 steals, 2 assists), Alec Nordsieck (2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block), Parker Bingham (2 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Jon Scott (1 point) and Sam Burns (2 points).