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Warriors Back in the Winner's Circle
Meridian High claims its' first boys basketball title since 1992
Published: 3/8/2021 10:33:57 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


Not so long ago, the Meridian High boys basketball program had completed one winning season in ten years, and the future didn't look promising.

But since becoming Meridian's coach in 2017, Jeff Sanor has worked tirelessly to bring the Warriors back to their winning ways.

That hard work culminated in the school's first boys' basketball championship since 1992 on Saturday night.  Meridian (20-1) defeated Lake City (17-8) 68-54 to win the Idaho 5A championship.

"It's an indescribable feeling, a dream come true," said Meridian center Brody Rowbury.  The 6-10 senior scored 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds, but the real star was senior point guard McKay Anderson.  Anderson scored 23 points, including 19 in the opening half.  Those 19 points were crucial, as leading scorer Joe Mpoyo picked up three fouls in the opening quarter and wasn't available for much of the first half.

"I just started feeling it a little bit," Anderson said.  "He (Mpoyo) had to sit down early, and I knew that he's been one of our biggest scorers throughout the whole year.  I knew I would have to put up the points to separate us (from Lake City)."

Anderson's efforts staked Meridian to a 40-32 lead at halftime.  Mpoyo returned to the lineup in the second half and finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds, and didn't pick up another foul the rest of the way.

"My mindset was to stay positive, uplift my teammates, and just keep working," Mpoyo said.  "Try to find other ways to help my teammates, whether that's rebounding, assisting, defending, all the little things."

Lake City hung tough in the second half, but a 10-2 Meridian run in the fourth quarter ultimately put the game away.  The Timberwolves were led by Kolton Mitchell's 15 points, while Zach Johnson added 14.  Both Mitchell and Johnson are sophomores.  Starting center Blake Buchanan and sixth man Varick Meredith are sophomores as well, leaving the future very bright at Lake City High.

Perhaps Lake City can learn from this year's championship game loss.  Meridian used previous losses to fuel the fire for their title run in 2021.

"My first year on varsity, my sophomore year, we didn't even make it state," McKay Anderson said.  "We went out two games in a row at districts, and that hurt, because I knew we should have been at state.  So we learned from that, came back the next year and punched our ticket to state." 

"We got killed by Rocky Mountain last year (at state), and it was just all building blocks," he added.  "Learning the atmosphere in here (the Idaho Center), feeling out how state is, and coming back and having that experience really helped us this year."

The turnaround led by coach Jeff Sanor has been remarkable.  He's lead the Warriors to a winning record in each of his four seasons at the helm, a far cry from where Meridian used to be. 

"I remember in the sixth grade, I used to come to the (Meridian High) games," Joe Mpoyo said.  "They used to get blown out by like 30 (points) every game.  And I was just thinking, "I've got three years to prepare myself to change this program, and do everything I can (to help this team win)."

Mpoyo and company have now established a new tradition for this year's sixth grade class.  Maybe one day we'll hear from a future Warrior, talking about this year's team and the example they set.


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