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Toast of the 2A
Melba earns their first boys basketball title since 2011
Published: 3/5/2022 4:50:35 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster

After three years of sweat, determination and frustrations, the Melba Mustangs reached the summit and claimed the 2022 Class 2A state boys basketball championship with a 59-50 win over St. Maries.

Their three-year journey to the title included an 0-2 showing at state in 2020, and a sixth place finish and a loss in the consolation championship a year ago. 

Joe Reiber led the Mustangs with 20 points and seven rebounds, and earned Player of the Game honors.  Braden Volkers and Cache Beus chipped in 14 and 11 points, respectively.  

That three-headed monster proved to be difficult for opponents to solve in 2021-22.  When one of the three had an off night, the other two usually picked up the slack. "Playing Ambrose in the first round was tough, because I knew they would key in on me," Reiber said.  "I didn't have the greatest game, but that's ok.  Braden stepped up and he tore it up and got it done.  I knew after we got done with that first game, that no one could stop us."

Melba had to face their district rivals from Ambrose for the fourth time this year in the opening round.  From there, the Mustangs knocked out top-seeded North Fremont and third-seeded St. Maries in the first-ever tournament that seeded teams according to their regular season MaxPreps ranking.

"We knew coming in as the four seed, we didn't quite agree with that," Reiber said.  "We had a chip on our shoulder."

Melba held a tenuous 11-9 lead after one quarter of play in Saturday's championship.  But the Mustangs outscored St. Maries 14-7 in the second quarter, and led by as many as 17 points in the second half.

St. Maries, the defending 2A champs, wouldn't go quietly, though.  The Lumberjacks mounted a furious comeback and outscored Melba in the fourth quarter 19-17.  By then, though, it was too little, too late.

"I fouled out (in the fourth quarter)," Reiber said.  "I was on the bench, and I thought, 'Crap.  I think we started subbing too soon.'  So I said,  'Coach, get Braden back in there, get Cache back in there.'  And once they got back in there, and it got to thirty seconds (left), I knew."

MELBA (24-2) - Joe Reiber 20, Braden Volkers 14, Cache Beus 11, Dillon Stosich 6, Kaden Dayley 4, Tucker Lowber 4, Alfredo Orozco 0, Trace Stimpson 0, Gabe Shaffer 0, Noah West 0, Kyler Riste 0, Jeff Fahey 0

ST. MARIES (21-4) - Greyson Sands 12, Tristan Gentry-Nelson 11, Coleman Ross 8, Jared Badgett 5, Tristun Hill 3, Sean Elliott 2, Trace Wicks 2, Colby Renner 2, Dillon Holder 0, Wyatt Holmes 0, Remy Ballew 0, Trey Gibson 0, Seth Swallows 0

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