Last Thursday, Feb. 21, the Challis Vikings got their first shot at the High Desert Conference basketball championship.
Challis faced the Grace Grizzlies at West Jefferson High School.The Vikings had won their first tournament meeting with the Grizzlies and needed to beat them again to punch their ticket to the state tournament.The Challis players were tense for the game and their play reflected that. In the first quarter Challis scored just 8 points. After that the Vikings settled in and put up 16 in the second quarter. But it wasn’t enough to gain a lead, and the Vikings were down at the half 29-24.The Vikings couldn’t keep up in the second half either and ended up losing the game 49-67.Leading the Challis scoring effort were William Ashley with 22, Parker May with 13 and Ross Sheppeard with 8.The loss meant Challis had to win its next game or go home in the double-elimination tournament.On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Vikings traveled back to West Jefferson to compete for the district championship, facing Grace for the third time in the tournament.The Vikings fixed the mistakes they made on Friday and were ready to cut down a net on Saturday.The game was tight right from the start, with each team putting up 19 in the first quarter.Challis broke free in the second quarter, adding 25 to the board and having a good halftime lead of 44-30.Challis continued to score well throughout the second half and the great play forced Grace to foul in hopes of preserving time.The Vikings responded well at the foul line, making 22 of 31 free-throw attempts.Solid shooting, combined with a great defensive effort, allowed the Challis Vikings to win their first district championship since 2015.The leading scorers were Ashley with 18, May with 17 and Mitchell Cotant with 10.Winning the district title pushed the Vikings’ season record to 17-6. It also qualifies Challis for the state championship.The Vikings’ first state tournament game is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, against Prairie High School. The game is played at Vallivue High School in Caldwell.State tournament games can be watched online at idahosports.com or the NFHS Network. Brackets and information can be found at idhsaa.org.