MAV­ER­ICKS ARE ON THE MOVE

The Idaho Statesman - - Front Page - BY MICHAEL LYCKLAMA mly­ck­[email protected]­hostates­man.com

The Moun­tain View girls bas­ket­ball team owns both the state’s top of­fense and its top de­fense.

The Moun­tain View High girls bas­ket­ball team has spent the en­tire sea­son as Idaho’s No. 1 team.

It showed why Thurs­day. The Mav­er­icks had their way with third-ranked Tim­ber­line up and down the court, in­vok­ing the run­ning-clock mercy rule at the start of the fourth quar­ter en route to a 63-25 victory.

The victory was just the lat­est blowout win for Moun­tain View (16-0, 14-0 5A SIC). Twelve of Moun­tain View’s 16 vic­to­ries have been by 20 or more points. And Thurs­day’s blowout fol­lowed a five-point win over Tim­ber­line in Novem­ber, show­ing the Mav­er­icks might be get­ting bet­ter as the sea­son rolls along.

“That’s a state­ment right there that we can han­dle any team in the state,” said Moun­tain View se­nior guard Dar­ian White, a Mon­tana State signee. “I feel so con­fi­dent that we can def­i­nitely be a state cham­pi­onship team this year.”

It’s not hard to see why. The Mav­er­icks own the state’s top of­fense (61.3 ppg) and top de­fense (35.8 ppg), and they wasted lit­tle time put­ting their full arse­nal on dis­play. Their man-to-man de­fense spurred an 11-0 lead to start the game, forced 21 turnovers and held the Wolves (12-4, 10-4) to 7-for-39 shoot­ing (18 per­cent).

Mean­while, Moun­tain View show­cased its bal­anced lineup of quick, ath­letic guards and size in­side the paint. White poured in 20 points, five steals and five as­sists. Fresh­man for­ward Naya Ojukwu racked up 11 points and seven re­bounds, and Laila Saenz fin­ished with nine points and six as­sists.

The 6-foot Ojukwu, along with the 6-1 Emma An­thony

and 6-3 Brae­lyn White­lock, give the Mav­er­icks the size they never had as they qual­i­fied for the past six state tour­na­ments. Their pres­ence could make the Mav­er­icks more dan­ger­ous than ever since they don’t have to rely on their out­side shoot­ing night in and night out.

Moun­tain View coach Con­nie Sko­grand said it’s tough to com­pare teams, but she added that this year’s squad has more depth than even the state cham­pi­onship squads of 2015 and 2016.

“You’ve got to keep them hun­gry,” Sko­grand said. “That’s our chal­lenge as coaches. We’ve got to keep them hun­gry all the time. We’ve got two more weeks (un­til dis­trict), and any­thing can hap­pen.”

The Mav­er­icks haven’t had any trou­ble thus far. With few op­po­nents to push them, they’ve in­stead turned their fo­cus in­ward. They’ve em­braced the tar­get that comes with the state’s No. 1 rank­ing, us­ing it as fuel and con­tin­u­ing to raise the bar.

“We al­ways get mo­ti­va­tion from that be­cause we know ev­ery­one is go­ing af­ter us,” Saenz said. “We’re the tar­get. We know ev­ery­one is right be­hind us. We hear foot­steps, so we just stay mo­ti­vated that way.”

Moun­tain View turned to Novem­ber’s close call at Tim­ber­line for mo­ti­va­tion this week. The Mav­er­icks led by 20 points in the first meet­ing only to watch the Wolves shoot their way back to a five­point deficit at the fi­nal buzzer. Tim­ber­line hadn’t lost since then and knocked off peren­nial power Ea­gle last week, vault­ing to No. 3 in the state me­dia poll Wed­nes­day.

That only caused Moun­tain View to lick its chops. Cham­pi­ons aren’t crowned in Jan­uary. But af­ter a 27-point win over No. 2 Lake City in Novem­ber, the Mav­er­icks can add a 38-point win over the state’s No. 3 team to their resume.

“This game proved what we are able to do, what we’re ca­pa­ble of,” White said. “This game should prove to teams that they should be scared of us.”

DARIN OSWALD [email protected]­hostates­man.com

Moun­tain View se­nior Dar­ian White steals a pass in­tended for Tim­ber­line’s Elena McHar­gue in the first half of their SIC Dis­trict Three game Thurs­day at Moun­tain View High School in Merid­ian.

Tim­ber­line fresh­man So­phie Glancey fights to get off a shot af­ter an of­fen­sive re­bound in the sec­ond half against Moun­tain View. The Mav­er­icks won 63-25.

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