BLACKFOOT — The fact that Snake River High School’s girls’ basketball team was able to win its first-ever 3A state championship last month was exciting enough. The fact that the boys’ basketball team was able to turn around and bring home a state title of its own last weekend could have put anyone over the top.
So you can’t blame students and faculty for feeling some serious Panther pride during a loud, high-energy, celebratory assembly honoring the teams on Tuesday. The hour-long event which included some games, songs, speeches and video clips concluded with the hanging of two banners and a short celebratory dance on the gymnasium floor.
But it’s likely that no one was as excited as the two teams who worked so hard to bring home those banners.
Junior Brylie Bair said her team played as a family and each member gave all that they had. Scout Baldwin, also a junior on the girls’ team, agreed.
“We were sisters on and off the court,” she said, adding that she’s proud that they were able to bring home the school’s first girls’ basketball title. “It’s the best feeling in the world to know we made history.”
Head coach Rich Dunn agrees.
“I am truly honored to have my name linked with this group of girls for the rest of our lives,” he said, adding that he’s still celebrating the win. It’s been two weeks and I am still living on cloud nine. It’s nice to be part of something special.”
Of course, his players say they couldn’t have made it to state without his help.
“Coach Dunn is very intense. He always knows just what to say before and after a game,” said junior McKenna Shelley, adding that he’s also a great role model for the players.
The boys’ team feels the same about its head coach, Robert Coombs.
“He’s a great guy and I look up to him,” said senior Cole Rushton. “I wouldn’t have any other coach in the state.”
Senior Jacoby Johnson agrees.
“We couldn’t have done it without him,” he said, adding that Coombs had the experience they needed to make it all the way.
And the state win meant a lot to Johnson and Rushton who set a goal as sophomores to bring home a title before they graduated.
They took third at state their sophomore year, and second their junior. They were both hungry for the win this year, and they — along with their teammates — did everything they could to get it.
“It’s about time,” Johnson said about the win. “We worked hard for it and it was fun to finally get it.”
Rushton said it was particularly exciting to win it the same year as the girls’ team.
“It’s great,” he said. “When you think of basketball, hopefully you will think of Snake River.”
Coombs said his team’s unity and drive helped them bring the title home this year.
“They didn’t quit all year,” he said, adding that each player did whatever they needed to to succeed.
He said he’s proud of the team, which brought home the fifth title he’s seen since he began coaching at the school 20 years ago.
“They’re all fun and exciting,” he said. “I haven’t come down yet.”
Here are some more photos from Tuesday’s assembly: