RIRIE – It was a remarkable year for boys basketball in eastern Idaho, especially for those fans in Idaho Falls and the surrounding areas and towns that flock to their local high school gyms every winter and root on the boys to be their best.
Four area teams played for state championships this past season and a fifth team earned a third-place trophy. It was memorable indeed, a year capped with raw emotion and jubilation, but for some, this year ended with questions about what might have been.
In Ririe, Michael Ure falls somewhere in between. The Bulldog’s senior do-everything player had another impressive season, helping carry a senior-laden and talented team into the 2A state tournament with hopes of claiming a championship after losing in the title game in 2017 and 2018.
But it wasn’t to be. The Bulldogs lost in the semifinals and had to bounce back to defeat Cole Valley to earn third place, finishing 24-2 overall.
Earlier this week while posing for photos in a quiet and empty Ririe High School gym, Ure said this season’s experience was bittersweet, a fun and challenging journey with close friends that came up just short of expectations at the end.
Eric Torgerson, who has since retired as head boys basketball coach at Ririe, said he didn’t want one loss in the state tournament to define the season or the career of his senior class, especially for the player whom he described as the best he’s ever coached in 20 years.
It’s in that spirit that Michael Ure is the 2018-19 Post Register All-Area Boys Basketball Player of the Year. The Post Register has no record of a Ririe boy being recognized with this honor.
The numbers don’t lie. Ure averaged 21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, and was among area leaders with 58 made 3-pointers while shooting 52 percent from the floor overall and 42 percent from 3. At 6-foot-7, he was a force under the basket, blocking 3.3 shots per game.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given,” Ure said. “It’s a very humbling and cool experience to be able to go (to the state tournament), let alone do it three times and make it to the state championship game.”
Ure has since collected several individual accolades, including recently being named Gatorade Idaho Player of the Year. It is an honor typically bestowed in Idaho to players from large schools, and Torgerson confirmed Ure is the first Ririe athlete for any sport to receive a Gatorade award. At the 2A level it might take a lot to get noticed, but Ure has done just that.
Challis coach Jerrod Farr said Ure’s skill set makes him a player who would fit in at any level.
“For a 6-7 kid, he can step out and play like a guard, handle the ball well, shoot the ball really well. He has good footwork inside, and is a shot blocker,” Farr said. “He’s not just tall; he has a lot of talent.”
Teams typically tried to double or even triple-team Ure, but the strategy proved fruitless. The Bulldogs had plenty of other options, including guard Larz Sutton, who would pick apart defenses with his speed and penetrating ability if they focused too much on Ure.
Sugar-Salem coach Shawn Freeman called Ure and Sutton a two-headed monster.
“Teams kind of had to pick their poison,” added Torgerson.
Even so, Ure put up impressive numbers and the Bulldogs kept winning all the way to the state tournament. Ure said his plans include playing in college – he’s been offered by Montana Tech – but his immediate plans are to serve a two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission before returning to the hardwood.
“It was fun,” Ure said of the season. “I feel like I made the most of every situation and had fun with my team. It was a blast.”