The first quarter of a game might not always portend how a game is going to unfold, but Thursday’s 4A District 6 high school boys basketball matchup was the exception.
Visiting Idaho Falls jumped out to an 18-0 lead on Hillcrest and didn’t let up on the way to a 76-50 victory.
The Tigers attacked the basket while the Knights struggled to keep pace as shots clanked off the rim. Hillcrest coach Dave Austin called a timeout with 4:59 left in the quarter, but Knights didn’t get their first basket until the closing minutes of the quarter.
“Those things happen,” Idaho Falls coach Howard Hart said of the fast start. “They don’t happen very often and you don’t plan on it ... A team like Hillcrest is going to battle back. Their kids play so hard.”
Hillcrest, which entered unbeaten in conference, did battle back in the second quarter, pulling within 29-20 on a 3-pointer by Trevor Roberts, but the Tigers closed the half with a 6-0 run and kept the lead around 20 points for most of the second half.
With the victory, Idaho Falls (4-1, 8-4) and Hillcrest 4-1, 5-8) are tied atop the standings.
Hart credited last week’s victory over previously ranked 5A No. 1 Madison for giving the team a boost during the team’s modest three-game win streak.
“We’ve played well all season long,” he said. “Anytime you get a win at Madison that builds a lot of confidence for kids. From that standpoint, that definitely helps.”
Idaho Falls shot 67 percent in the first half, with senior Kalvin Bowen doing most of the damage. Bowen finished with a game high 19 points, hitting 7 of 8 shots, and 6-foot-senior Braxton Ball was solid inside, scoring 18 points and adding eight rebounds.
Hart noted that his team responded whenever Hillcrest started to close the gap.
“We caught focus again and played really well,” he said. “I was probably happier with us matching their runs with our own runs. Sometimes you can get off to that fast start and someone gets back in the game and you’ve lost a bit of your focus.”
Kyle Austin led Hillcrest with 16 points and a team-high four rebounds.
Idaho Falls plays Saturday at Twin Falls while Hillcrest hosts Madison on Wednesday.