The Kellogg Wildcats won their fourth consecutive District I championship on Thursday night when they knocked off the Priest River Spartans 70-48 at North Idaho College.
It was the Wildcats’ 29th consecutive Intermountain League victory, a streak that began at this very tournament in 2014.
“We worked hard this season,” coach Jeff Nearing said following the win. “We made this one of our goals and we accomplished it, now we are to the next goal.”
That next goal for the Wildcats is the 3A state tournament next week at Meridian High School in Meridian, Idaho.
The Wildcats could barely miss in the first half as they connected on eight of their nine attempted 3-pointers and had their way with every Spartan defender who mistakenly got in their way.
Tyler Gibbons paced the Wildcats in the first half with 12 points, but Kellogg had no shortage of scoring in the first half as the Wildcats took a 45-20 halftime lead.
The second half was a slightly different story as the Wildcats seemed to get slightly bored with their competition and allowed Priest River to get a little bit more offense going than they had allowed in the first half.
But when Kellogg needed it the most, the team got stops and turned them into scores as they romped their way into the state tournament.
Kellogg was led in scoring by Toby Colburn, who finished with 15 points and was followed by Chase Jerome who had 14.
“We played a really good first half,” Nearing said. “We had some issues staying focused in the second half, but we got them figured out and we were able to get a solid win tonight.”
Kellogg is normally a team that can play 12 players deep when they want to, but was limited to just nine as the flu had ravaged the Wildcats’ bench.
Following the game was the presentation of the IML All-League teams.
Jerome and Gibbons were both named to all-league team, Gibbons’ first nomination and Jerome’s second.
Coach Nearing was also named IML Coach of the Year.
“This isn’t a reflection of me,” Nearing humbly said. “This coach of the year award belongs to this team and to my assistants who helped make all of this possible.”
Colburn, Kellogg’s lone senior was named the IML’s Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year.
Kellogg (18-2) will now begin preparing for the state tournament and will play at Meridian High School Thursday at 5:15 p.m. PST.