Tigers triumph as regular season draws to a close
The Mountain Home Tigers are coming on at the right time. Playing great defense, the boys varsity basketball team picked up wins over Kuna and Columbia last week.
Mountain Home 46, Kuna 42
Mountain Home Tiger boys basketball coach Brion Bethel had a good feeling going into Thursday night's home game against Kuna.
The reason was the energy and spirit that have been present this week in practices. That energy hustle was apparent in the game, as the Tigers got revenge for an early season 49-29 drubbing by the Kavemen at Kuna, holding off the Kavemen 46-42 in Lloyd Schiller Gymnasium.
The game was close, a hard-fought, defensive struggle, with three of the five ties occurring in the first quarter, Mountain Home taking a 12-9 lead into the second quarter.
The Tiger lead hit five points twice in the second quarter before the Kavemen narrowed it to one. A basket by Devin Wright in the closing seconds pushed the lead back to three, 22-19, at the half.
Mountain Home only managed four points in the third quarter -- a trey by Christian Riedel and a free throw by Jared Schetzle. But the hustling, scrappy Tiger defense held Kuna to just nine points and the deficit was just two, 28-26, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers continued their tenacious defense in the fourth quarter and went on a 10-0 run to build up a 36-28 lead with 3:47 left in the game.
Kuna scrapped its way back within one on two different occasions, the last at 42-41 with 29.8 seconds left in the game.
Chris Wright sank two free throws to make it 44-41 with 25.8 seconds left.
Kuna made one of two free throws to cut it to 44-42 with 18.8 seconds left.
Chris Wright hit one of two free throws to make it a 45-42 game with 17 seconds left.
Kuna tried a three-point shot with five seconds left and missed, but got the rebound, and the desperation three-point shot was way short. Christian Riedel got the rebound and was fouled with one second left.
Riedel hit one of two free throws to make it 46-42, and the long heave down the floor was off at the buzzer as the Tigers had picked up their third win of the season.
"I'm really proud of the kids," said Coach Bethel after the game. "The energy they've been practicing with showed tonight. They were up and down the court and they really fought to the end. They had some inexperience mistakes, but they fought to the end, and I'm real proud of them."
Nine Tigers scored, led by Jarek Schetzle with 12 points. Chris Wright netted eight, Devin Wright six, Garrett McKenzie five, Tyler Park and Christian Riedel had four each, Brion Bethel Jr. three and AJ Woodruff and Brandon Reyes both scored two.
Mountain Home 53, Columbia 42
A 19-1 third quarter edge helped the Tigers to a 53-42 win at Columbia against the Wildcats Saturday night.
Columbia led 15-10 after a quarter and hit two treys in the second quarter. The first one pushed the Wildcats' lead to 18-10 and the second one, after the Tigers went on a 10-0 gave them the lead, at 20-18.
The Wildcats went into the locker room up 21-20 at halftime.
But the momentum Mountain Home started in the second quarter continued into the third and the Tigers went on a 10-0 run to start the quarter. Then, after a Columbia free throw -- their only points in the period -- a 9-0 run to end the quarter made it 39-22, Tigers, heading into the fourth.
Marcus Egusquiza hit a trey to start the fourth that pushed the Tiger lead to 20, at 42-22, and their biggest lead of the night came on a basket by Ibraheem "Pete" Ramadan with 4:14 left that made it 48-27.
Columbia rallied, outscoring the Tigers 15-5 the rest of the game, but it was too-little, too-late as Mountain Home picked up its second straight win and fourth of the season -- the most wins since the 2010-11 season.
"The kids worked hard," said a happy Coach Bethel after the game.
"They've still got some things to clean up. They got a little lazy there at the end, but they played hard and it's nice to get a victory on the road.
"We're been focusing on having more energy in the third quarter, playing better defense and getting quicker shots. It seems like we were always coming out flat in the third, so we wanted to make sure we came out with some energy in the third quarter, and they did a really good job."
Jarek Schetzle and AJ Woodruff led the Tigers in scoring with 11 points apiece. Schetzle had 12 rebounds. Chris Wright added six points, Tyler Park and Christian Riedel both scored five, Ibraheem "Pete" Ramadan and Devin Wright each scored four, Marcus Egusquiza chipped in three and Garrett McKenzie had two points.
The win improved the Tigers to 4-11 in conference and 4-15 on the season.
They closed out their regular season at home Tuesday against Emmett, a team they lost to in overtime last month at Emmett.
The District III 4A Basketball Tournament begins Saturday.
This week, the Mountain Home News continues its series of taking a closer look at the Mountain Home Tigers varsity basketball team.
A.J. Daniels is a six-foot, one-inch junior. The son of Denise and Robert Daniels, he stays active by playing sports. His goal for the season is to "dunk the ball in a game."
Future goals include, "make it to college and play basketball and to dunk in my first game."