It took a while for Preston’s boys basketball team to get going offensively in a big showdown with district rival Pocatello, but the Franklin County Indians certainly found their groove.
Preston went on a 14-2 run spanning the second and third quarters, and the buried a very good Pocatello squad with a 11-0 spurt later in the third quarter en route to a 79-55 drubbing of the Gate City Indians on Friday night.
Preston (12-1, 6-0) exploded for 66 points over the final three quarters in a showdown of the top two teams in the 4A District 4-5 standings. Pocatello (10-3, 5-2) had won its previous four games. In the process, the Franklin County Indians racked up a season-high point tally and extended their winning streak to eight — all of which have been decided by at least 17 points.
“Great night tonight and a game we needed,” PHS head coach Tyler Jones said in an interview with mylocalradio.com. “We saw some glimpses of what we can become. The first half was tight, back and forth and the second half we kind of got going. Our tempo was great, we pushed the ball and got some easy buckets. And then we got the ball inside after that and Ty (Hyde) pretty much (controlled) the second half. And, more than anything, it was just a great team effort.”
Preston trailed for large chunks of the first and second quarters, but took the lead for good at 25-24 on the second of four Scott Dunn 3-pointers midway through the second quarter. Cooper Hobson then proceeded to bury a 3-ball in his first game of the 2019-20 campaign. Hobson, Preston’s second-leading scorer last season, suffered an ACL tear last summer.
“It means a lot to us,” Dunn told The Idaho State Journal when asked about having Hobson back. “It was a big blow in the summer when he went down. He’s slowly making his way and you saw him play a couple minutes tonight. He’s going to be a big influence, bring another shooter to the floor. He’s going to be really hard to guard.”
A pair of buckets by reserve Rett Robertson capped off a 10-0 Preston surge and gave the hosts a 32-26 lead heading into the locker room.
It was all Preston in the second half as Hyde and Luke Smellie both got going offensively in the third quarter. Both players netted eight points in Preston’s 28-point third quarter. Smellie threw down a thunderous baseline dunk, while Hyde dominated down low.
Dunn continued to sparkle as he scored 10 points in each half for the Franklin County Indians. Hyde added 18 points, blocked four shots — three in emphatic fashion — and altered a couple others. Smellie tallied all 12 of his points after halftime and made several pinpoint passes, and Cole Harris chipped in with 10 points.
Preston’s advantage ballooned to 27 points in two occasions in the fourth quarter — 76-49 on a Smellie trey, and 79-52 on a nice three-point play by Braden Hess.
Kaden Hales knocked down five of Pocatello’s eight triples and finished with a game-best 23 points.
PREP GIRLS HOOPS
Two-time defending state champion Soda Springs (15-2, 5-0) blitzed visiting West Side 25-6 in the first quarter en route to a 68-31 victory and series sweep of the Pirates (2-14, 2-3).
Sadie Gronning went 8 for 8 in the field in the first quarter and racked up 29 points for the Cardinals. West Side head coach Bob Sorensen said there was a college scout watching the Soda Springs standout, and she did not disappoint.
Kajsia Fuller led the Pirates with 13 points, while Kenlee Nance added 12.
“It was rough. Soda was playing extremely well and we lost our confidence,” Sorensen said.