blackfoot girls vs Skyline at state

Blackfoot’s Kianna Wright drives to the basket against Skyline in Thursday’s 4A state tournament opener.

MERIDIAN — With a limited capacity crowd at Mountain View High School and two District 6 rivals facing off for the sixth time this season, Thursday felt like an odd way to start the 4A state girls’ basketball tournament.

But once the ball went up, play on the floor had its usual playoff intensity. And thanks to 20 points from junior forward Kianna Wright, 17 rebounds from Hadley Humphreys and a stifling all-around defensive effort, Blackfoot emerged with a 48-40 win over Skyline.

“We came to fight,” Wright said. “We really wanted it, and we’re so excited to get this win at state. Hopefully, we can keep it going all the way to the ‘ship.”

Isabelle Arave added 10 points for Blackfoot (19-6), which avenged a loss in last week’s district title rubber match. The Broncos advance to play the winner of Burley and Middleton in a 7 p.m. semifinal Friday at Mountain View.

“When you play a team six times, you know each other really well,” Blackfoot coach Raimee Odum said. “We had a game plan, but at this point, it really just comes down to both teams digging deep. And tonight, our defense was huge.”

Blackfoot started fast, scoring in transition and swarming Skyline shooters, especially standout guard Mattie Olson. When Praire Caldwell hit a runner to make it 16-6 at the first quarter buzzer, the Broncos had seized momentum — and a lead they would never relinquish.

“I think the way we shot the ball early, we really had a hill to climb,” Skyline coach Ty Keck said. “It’s our first time at the state tournament, and we definitely had some nerves. We played hard and made a few runs to try and climb out of it, but we couldn’t quite finish.”

With Skyline struggling to find an offensive rhythm, Blackfoot continued to make things tough. Arave hounded Olson at every turn, while Wright carried the scoring load on 9-for-13 shooting, doing most of her damage in the paint. And Humphreys grabbed every loose ball in her vicinity, helping the Broncos to a 36-20 edge on the glass.

“Skyline knows us so well, they do a good job of trying to take away Hadley,” Odum said. “I thought our girls made good decisions throughout the game. Hadley made good reads and Kianna made good cuts off her to take advantage of that.”

Skyline (17-8) cut the deficit to seven twice in the second half, but could get no closer, losing for just the second time in 13 games. Olson led the Grizzlies with 13 points and four steals, while Sophia Anderson added 12 points and seven rebounds. Skyline shot 35% overall and only attempted five free throws, well below its season average. The Grizzlies play the loser of Burley and Middleton at 2 p.m. Friday in the consolation bracket.

“This was a big step for our program,” Keck said. “Hopefully, we learn from it and come back again next year knowing what to expect and what it takes to win.”

BLACKFOOT 48, SKYLINE 40

Blackfoot 16 8 11 13 — 48

Skyline 6 7 9 18 — 40

BLACKFOOT — Praire Caldwell 6, Isabelle Arave 10, Esperanza Vergara 6, Kianna Wright 20, Hadley Humphreys 4, Marlee Piper 2.

SKYLINE — Drew Chapman 8, Taryn Chapman 3, Sophia Anderson 12, Mattie Olson 13, Tailer Thomas 4.