Basketball is all about fathers and sons, and mothers and daughters, spending hours practicing in the driveway and schoolyards so they can graduate to the packed gyms and arenas. You get a lot of bang-for-the-buck with basketball.
Bang-for-the-buck is certainly what the players, coaches and Alumni Night/Cowboy Night fans got Wednesday night in a thrilling boys’ basketball clash with a lot of stake for the host Wood River High School cagers and the visiting Mountain Home Tigers.
Rarely do you find a match-up where each team is led by a head coach father and a son who is a star player. On a chilly Hailey night outdoors, it was “Game On” indoors.
Wood River offered coach John Radford and senior guard Johnny Radford, who needed to score 19 points to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. Mountain Home had coach Brion Bethel and his emerging sophomore star guard Brandon Bethel.
The boys defended each other fiercely and their teammates followed suit. And what a game it turned out to be! Mountain Home built a 22-8 halftime lead over the cold-shooting Wolverines, and Johnny Radford sparked a terrific comeback after half.
Mountain Home (4-16, 4-10 Great Basin Conference) shot a little better all game, got the bounces and the calls, and emerged with a 48-46 victory despite being outscored 38-26 by Hailey in the second half.
Radford (26.3 ppg), held to six points in the first half, exploded for 14 in the third quarter and brought Wood River within one, at 29-28, with three minutes left in the period.
His driving basket past Brandon Bethel’s relentless defense and soft touch with a bank shot off the glass brought the pulsating student rooting section to its feet. On a banner, they had been enthusiastically keeping track of the countdown to the record all game.
That layup was Radford’s 20th point of the game and gave the 6-0 College of Idaho-bound star 1,263 career points. It lifted Radford past 1988 Idaho A-2 Player of the Year Brad Jaques (1,261) for the all-time Wood River scoring lead.
At that point, the student section went cowboy wild and Wood River fans stood as one.
The game stopped briefly to give Radford the basketball, and members of both teams gathered to congratulate Radford at midcourt in a tremendous display of sportsmanship.
Remember, it was a one-point game at the time. It stayed close for the remainder.
With Wood River shooting 14-for-14 at the free throw line for the game and 12-for-12 in the fourth quarter alone, Radford made all six of his charities in the climactic fourth period to bring his team to within three points at 47-44 with one minute remaining.
Brogan Ros’ steal and basket on an inbounds pass from brother Davis Ros with 15 seconds left narrowed the Tiger lead to 47-46. Mountain Home held on to win 48-46 by hitting its own charities—senior Kane Binkley making 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter.
Radford (26 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block) led the way. Others were Davis Ros (7 points, 4 boards), Kade Heitzman (4 points, 9 rebounds), Brogan Ros (4 points, 4 rebounds) and Walter Kriesien (3 points, 1 block).
Mountain Home gained revenge for a seven-point home loss to Wood River Jan. 21.
Leading the Tigers were Brandon Bethel (9 points, 2 steals, 6 assists), Binkley (12 points, 10 after half), Noah Moseley (8 points, 2 rebounds), Hyrum Wright (10 points, 4 boards) and impressive freshman Jon Tetrault (6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block).
The connection of Radford and Jaques came full circle with the scoring mark at stake in Wednesday’s league game.
Coach Radford actually assistant-coached Jaques during the Hailey graduate’s sophomore and junior years at the University of Redlands 30 years ago. Radford got to know the Jaques family, inquired about teaching positions at Wood River and landed a job.
Radford and his wife Sue raised their children Johnny and older sister Blair on local basketball courts here.
Blair became one of Wood River’s all-time leading girls’ basketball scorers. Johnny rose to No. 1 all-time Wednesday after breaking Jaques’ single-game scoring record back in December with an amazing 47-point effort.
Wood River (10-10, 6-6 GBC) will end its regular-season slate with today’s “Senior Night” home conference game against Minico Spartans (14-6, 8-4 GBC) on the Hailey court.
Minico is coached by Brady Trenkle, a son of legendary Wood River boys’ and girls’ basketball coach Fred Trenkle. The Spartans still have a shot at the No. 2 seed in the GBC tournament that begins Feb. 20. They have to beat Wood River to keep that hope alive.
Wood River will likely have the No. 6 in the tournament and will likely travel to either Burley, Minico or Pocatello for the Feb. 20 first-round clash.