It could have been an uphill battle for Preston when first-team all-state forward Ty Hyde picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game.
To their credit, the Indians didn’t flounder, but flourished instead.
Preston embarked on runs of 8-0, 6-0, 8-0 and 7-0 with Hyde on the bench en route to a 72-43 victory over Logan in a non-region boys basketball contest last Saturday night at Grizzly Den.
“Unfortunately, he’s done that a lot this year, but it’s good to see that when he does go out that the others have been able to step up,” Preston head coach Tyler Jones said of Hyde’s early foul trouble.
Preston (8-1) never trailed in the latest installment of its rivalry with Logan (2-8) and led by as many as 33 points in the second half. The two teams have squared off 10 times since the 2014-15 campaign, and the Indians have won six straight in the series.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Jones said. “We’re close, you know, only a half-hour away and it’s great to be able to play some of the valley schools. And we’ve had some battles with (Logan) over the years, and coach (Logan) Brown does a great job. They have a great program and it’s always tough to get a win here, so any time you can you’ve got to enjoy it.”
Nearly every Preston-Logan game has been decided by fewer than 10 points over the past six seasons, but the Indians took control from the get-go last weekend. Preston led by double figures less than five minutes into the contest and took a commanding 41-15 advantage into the half.
“They kicked our butts in all areas of the game and you’ve got to give credit to Preston,” Brown said. “And we’re not going to make excuses. We’ve got to get better ... and learn from playing against a really good team. But I also think we can do a better job of representing what Logan High basketball’s about, and that starts with me as a coach and our players will follow. We can recover, but that was tough because we didn’t play to the level that we can play at.”
The Grizzlies struggled to figure out how to attack the Indians’ zone defense in the first half as they only scored one bucket in the paint. Meanwhile, Preston point guard Luke Smellie dissected Logan’s defense in transition and in the half court.
With the exception of a 3-pointer by Scott Dunn, two floaters by Garrett Ward and six free throws, all of Preston’s 41 points in the opening half were accumulated right at the basket.
“That’s when we are at our best,” Preston forward Cole Harris said. “Luke is amazing at creating and once he does that, we have Scott and Garrett and Gabe (Hammons) who can put up some 3s, and me and Ty in the post. It all works really good when Luke’s making those awesome plays.”
The Grizzlies had no answer for Smellie, who recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 assists, despite not playing at all in the fourth quarter. Additionally, it was a big night for the Smellie family as older brother Austin scored a career-high 21 points in Idaho State’s 62-60 home win over Idaho.
“That’s the most important position on the court and to have a senior that’s been there a couple of years is big,” Jones said. “... And tonight I thought Luke did an excellent job of breaking their pressure and then finding the open guy, and he just kind of set the tone for us.”
The Grizzlies came out strong in the third quarter as a couple of hustle plays led to a pair of 3-pointers — one each by Hayden Woolley and Jadin Penigar — and a 6-0 spurt by the hosts. However, the Indians quickly regrouped with a 18-6 surge of their own to take control for good.
It was a balanced offensive effort for Preston, which had five players score nine or more points. Harris and Dunn netted 16 points apiece, Ward added 11, Smellie 10 and Hyde nine.
The Indians have won four consecutive games, all by at least 20 points, after suffering their lone loss of the season against Middleton.
Penigar led Logan with 12 points, while Ethan Davis chipped in with 11. The youthful Grizzlies — they only have two seniors — have played a very challenging preseason schedule, including three really good teams from Idaho in Rigby, Sugar-Salem (twice) and Preston.
“Yeah, we’ve gone down gauntlet row,” Brown said. “We’ve been tested and it’s going to help us for our region games. We’ve just got to learn from (these games).”
OTHER SATURDAY GAMES
Four other Cache Valley high school basketball programs were in action last Saturday, and all four of them emerged victorious.
The Ridgeline boys extended its winning streak to four with a 59-30 drubbing of Kearns on Day 1 of the Juan Diego-hosted Eagle Holiday Shootout. The Riverhawks (4-4) outscored the Cougars by a whopping 42-17 margin in the opening half.
Peyton Knowles led Ridgeline in points (16) and rebounds (eight), while Jacob Salvesen added 15 points and five boards. Chase Hall contributed with nine points, four assists and three steals for the Riverhawks.
The West Side boys earned a 50-38 home win over Marsh Valley. The Pirates (4-2) won the third quarter by a 14-6 margin to take control.
Bryler Shurtliff scored a team-high 17 points for West Side, including at least four in every quarter. Connor Nielsen netted nine points for the Pirates, winners of three straight.
A pair of local girls hoops teams competed on Day 2 of the Star Valley (Wyoming) Shootout. Green Canyon beat Thunder Ridge (Idaho) 56-40 to cap off a 3-0 record at the tourney, while Ridgeline rallied past Star Valley, 43-42.
The Wolves (9-1) outscored the Titans in every quarter, and netted at least 15 points in each of the first three quarters. Kennedy Eskelson had another solid performance for Green Canyon as she finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Kinley Falslev and Jordyn Thompson combined for 21 points, while Allee McKenna recorded eight points and eight boards.
Ridgeline (5-4) fell behind Star Valley 13-5 after the first quarter, pulled even at 30-30 heading into the final quarter and faced a three-point deficit late in the contest. Kori Palmer drained a pair of free throws, stole the ball for the Riverhawks, and Brayli Jenks buried a game-winning floater with two seconds left.
Jenks led Ridgeline in points (13) and assists (four), Emma Anderson chipped in with 12 points and six boards, while Brinlie Crosbie tallied 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.