Sports Sunday Correspondent
FOYIL — Everyone knows Foyil’s proven scoring threat is Taylor Antle, but Jared Ward was making his own case in the matter as the high school basketball playoffs got underway on Friday.
“He shot well,” said a smiling coach Jason Ward, Jared’s older brother. “He shot really well.”
No kidding. The junior guard hit six treys and was perfect from the free throw line as he matched his season-high total of 21 points and led his red-hot Panthers into the regional tournament with a 77-40 district tournament walloping of Ketchum.
And Ward wasn’t the only one raining shots. Dillon Noland hit all four of his 3-pointers in the first half as the Warriors struggled to slow down a well-oiled scoring machine.
“We shot really really well,” Jason Ward said. “These last couple of weeks, we’ve been playing really well. We wanted to be playing well right now, and we are.”
It took only 15 seconds for Foyil to hit its first bomb as Noland laid down an extra-long jumper to put his team up. That was as close as the Warriors would be all night.
“These last few games, our starters have been shooting like 3,000 times,” coach Ward said. “We’ve been doing a lot of shooting practice lately.”
Noland’s trey was the start of something bigger: An early 11-2 run.
Foyil hit 46 percent from the floor (28 of 61) while holding Ketchum to 21 and 19 points in each half, including an 8-point third quarter.
That was just the opportunity the Panthers needed. They hit four 3s in the third — including a miraculous kiss off the glass by Ward to beat the buzzer — and extended their lead to 30.
Barely considering anything within the 3-point line, Ward threw up all 10 of his shots from outside — way outside. Rarely did they come closer than NBA 3-point distance.
He picked up a foul on one such attempt in the second, nailing all three free throws.
“Like they were saying in the locker room (at halftime), ‘We need to keep shooting,’” Jason Ward said.
Antle was hip to that. Although not in his typical dominant form, he showed he could score in his usual way. He hit 5 of 6 two-point buckets — uncharacteristically, only 1 of 4 from outside — but still managed 17 points.
With Foyil’s starters benched as the lead grew to 63-29 at the start of the fourth, the reserves took over and added 16, extending the lead another five.
Of 11 players on the Panthers’ roster, 10 found their way into the scorebook.
Foyil advances to a regional tournament at Ketchum, beginning on Thursday.
Ketchum moves on at 6-13. Foyil is 18-5.
For a while, it seemed the Lady Panthers were finally going to get their due.
After struggling through a 1-19 regular season, they managed a stirring comeback in the third period, only to fall flat when a string of fouls gave the Ketchum (8-13) ample time to work its will.
The result was a 60-50 heartbreak that sends Foyil to the loser’s bracket of the regional tournament, beginning Thursday at Ketchum.
The Lady Warriors took a 37-20 halftime lead, but the Lady Panthers came out shooting. They hit five consecutive shots to open the third as they marked a 13-0 run that carried over from the first half. They took the lead, 41-40, for the first and only time, at 2:03 of the third.
“I told them not to give up,” Foyil coach Lisa Scott said.
Just when Foyil seemed poised for a chance at redemption, Ketchum strung together an 8-0 run, thanks to a myriad of fouls that repeatedly took possession away from Foyil in the final minutes of the fourth.
Kenzie Murray had 16 points for the Lady Panthers.
FOYIL 77, KETCHUM 40
Ketchum 12 9 8 11 — 40
Foyil 23 20 18 16 — 77
Ketchum — Doldenhead 13, Hardin 10, Little 6, Garrett 5, Mouse 4, Jones 2.
Foyil — Ward 21, Antle 17, Noland 14, Hendrix 5, Ridgway 4, Simerly 4, Hubbard 4, Thomas 4, Cunningham 2, Leland 2.
KETCHUM 60, FOYIL 50
Ketchum 17 20 4 19 — 60
Foyil 7 13 21 9 — 50
Ketchum — Garrett 23, Inman 11, Lancaster 8, Mouse 7, Kester 5, Jones 3, Crabtree 2.
Foyil — Murray 16, Hipp 13, B.Snyder 11, Brown 4, T.Snyder 4.