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Hillcrest Hammers Pocatello for 4A Title
Hillcrest earned its first boys basketball title in school history
Published: 3/5/2022 8:40:38 PM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster

Among the swarming red mass of Hillcrest family and friends that gathered at the outskirts of the Idaho Center in Nampa, many emotions were on display.  Proud parents beamed as their sons emerged from the tunnel.  Fellow Hillcrest students were jubilant, mobbing the players as they attempted to make their way through the crowd.  And a few passionate fans even shed tears, for this championship win was a watershed moment: the first boys basketball title in Hillcrest High School history.

Hillcrest jumped Pocatello from the start, outscoring the Thunder 23-8 after one quarter of play, 36-17 at halftime, 57-31 after three quarters, and ultimately, by a final score of 76-46.  The Knights were paced by the Kesler brothers.  Cooper, a senior, finished his Knights career with 18 points.  Kobe, a sophomore, did better than that: a game-high 20 points and Player of the Game honors.

"It feels amazing, but I've got mixed emotions," Kobe Kesler said.  "All my buddies, my friends, these seniors, are leaving.  But what a way to send them out."

What a send-out indeed.  Hillcrest shot a blistering 51.7% from the floor, while limiting Pocatello to just 30.9% shooting.  Most importantly, the Thunder were just 4-of-20 from three-point range.

In addition to the Kesler brothers, sophomore center Isaac Davis added 18 points and 15 rebounds.  His presence down low greatly disrupted Pocatello's plans to attack the basket.  Kobe Kesler and Davis will form the core of next year's Hillcrest squad, while graduating starters Cooper Kesler, Jase Austin and Garrett Phippen will have to be replaced.

For Pocatello, sophomore Julian Bowie scored 19 points to lead the way.  His backcourt mate, Ryan Payne, had an uncharacteristically cold night and finished with just five points.  But don't be fooled, Kobe Kesler said.

"They're a really good team.  They've got some great players," Kesler said.  "They hit some tough shots.  I pride myself on defense, and I thought I was there, but they kept getting buckets.  They're a really good team.  They'll be back next year."

HILLCREST (26-2) - Kobe Kesler 20, Cooper Kesler 18, Isaac Davis 18, Garrett Phippen 7, Jase Austin 6, Garrin Kress 2, Zach Greenig 2, Porter Bronson 2, Eric Patterson 1, Titan Larsen 0, Matthew Trenkle 0, Gavin Helpworth 0, Talan Taylor 0

POCATELLO (24-4) - Julian Bowie 19, Matt Christensen 8, Ryan Payne 5, Kade Jensen 5, Kesler Vaughan 4, Krue Hales 3, Hunter Killian 2, Isaiah Snell 0, Mason Zweigart 0, Dreyson Contreras 0, Logan Rogers 0, Parker Smith 0, Braden Magnuson 0, Carson Christensen 0, Jaxon Williams 0

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