We still seem to like the way MaxPreps ranks our state tournaments here in Idaho more than we did the old way.
But – and don’t call us prophets here – we said it last year, and will say it again: there will never be a perfect system for this stuff.
Which is why the fact that both St. Maries’ and Lakeside’s brackets have league opponents playing one another in the first round isn’t bothering us too badly.
It’s still strange, the thought of two schools separated by 53 miles driving in unison some 300 miles away from their homes to play one another.
That will be the case in the first game of Thursday’s 2A tournament when Bear Lake and West Side open play at Capital High.
But games like those are not frequent.
And one could argue that playing in the quarterfinals is better than two league teams meeting the championship.
Unless, of course, the two league opponents had played a few nail biters throughout the year and were longtime rivals.
In which case, a meeting at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa Saturday afternoon would be about as cool as it gets.
But St. Maries and Kellogg both have a LOT of work to do before that can even come close to becoming a reality.
In the case of either team, there is probably relief that the two landed on opposite sides of the 2A bracket.
Which one is more comforted by that is up for debate.
St. Maries may be relieved that it likely will not have to stave off the Wildcats’ desire for vengeance after last week’s district championship game.
And we can bet Kellogg is happy to not have to watch another comfortable double-digit lead potentially evaporate in a span of about six minutes.
But, for both teams, we have no doubt they will represent the north well, and seeing a couple (preferably three for St. Maries) wins for either side is highly plausible.
• • •
Among all the challenges teams face at a state tournament, Lakeside is facing an added one.
The Knights sat for two weeks leading up to their one-off district game with Genesis Prep last week.
And there were stretches where they certainly looked like they hadn’t played in weeks.
Now, having waited another week to begin their state run, the Knights will need to find a way to stay sharp despite Thursday’s state quarterfinal being their second game in 21 days.
On paper, Lakeside is about 36 points better than Potlatch.
And it should be the favorite to earn a trip to the semifinals.
But don’t be surprised if Potlatch strings a few runs together in the first half and throws the Knights off balance, at least early on.
• • •
The Holmes/Martin/Renner clan will stay plenty busy in Boise this week, as well.
Tyler Renner, Wyatt Holmes and St. Maries tip off at 4 p.m. PST Thursday, and following that Blake Buchannon and top-ranked 5A Lake City will open its run at redemption at the Ford Idaho Center at 6 p.m. PST.
Eighth-ranked teams have beaten #1 seeds, even in the short time Idaho has been seeding teams 1-8, so we can bet the Timberwolves will not take #8 Highland lightly, especially considering the fact that Lake City was ranked #1 last year, and fell in its first game.
• • •
Apart from St. Maries, Lakeside and Lake City, Bonners Ferry is another northern team to keep an eye on.
The Badgers have been beating up on local teams, having defeated St. Maries twice and Lakeside once. Each of those three games were highly competitive, but still, Bonners Ferry came out on top.
It is 21-1 and ranked first in the 3A tournament, which will be held at Meridian High School.
• • •
The 4A ranks are woeful as far as local teams are concerned. Lakeland is the only team north of Boise to make the cut, and are the lowest seed in the bracket. They will face #1 Hillcrest, defending 4A champs, in the late game Thursday at Rocky Mountain High School.
The Idaho Center is not only home to the 5A tournament, but starting last year the 4A semifinals began taking place there, in addition to the championship games for all six classifications, as has been the case for a long time.
• • •
And speaking of locations for basketball games, we’ve probably got enough courts, hotels and restaurants up here to host a state tournament one of these years.
There are too many things to be upset about nowadays. We aren’t leading the rallying cry to start rotating boys basketball tournaments the same way volleyball does.
But it’s a thought that has found its way into courtside conversations throughout District One for years.
Maybe if we try hard enough we can will it into existence.
But until then, we will appreciate the fact that our local teams are good enough to make the trip south each year, and most of the time drive home with some hardware.
Collin Scheel is the sports reporter at the Gazette Record.
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