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No. 1 Ranked Spartans Flex in 2nd Half, Crush Bruins

  • CHASE GLORFIELD For the Times-News
  • Updated

With the fans—who swarm to the gym in hoards—seemingly right on top of the court, it is a stifling and overwhelming experience for visiting teams. It can be hard to breathe.

It can be hard to score, too.

Tuesday against conference foe Twin Falls, the Spartans were at the top of their game as they rode their defense and a big offensive burst in the second half to a 71-53 win over the Bruins.

“Twin is a great program,” said Minico head coach Ty Shippen. “But our guys were resilient tonight. Twin Falls came out in the first half and did really well. We adjusted to that defensively later in the game.

“Our bench guys came in and did a really good job. The biggest difference tonight was our No. 6, 7 and 8 guys came in and played well. It was their best game of the season.”

Twin Falls got going early, breaking down Minico’s zone defense with crisp passing and smart decisions. That lead to buckets in the post and wide-open outside shots.

The Bruins held a 12-11 advantage after the first quarter.

The second period saw the teams seesaw back and forth until Shippen called a time out near the end of the quarter. When play resumed, the Spartans took control and never relinquished their grasp. They lead 30-25 at the break.

“The end of the second quarter was the difference,” said Twin Falls head coach Matt Harr. “They called a time out and we decided that we would chuck 3s up. I don’t mind 3-point shots, but we got selfish.

“We scored inside a lot early, but we settled for 3-pointers and we stopped playing defense. Teams like Minico, they sniff it out. When they saw blood they took advantage of it, and we just backed away.”

Behind Jeremy Stevenson’s game-high 17 points, Minico displayed a precise and tactical offensive strategy. They began to hit their outside shots, including a couple from sophomore Larry Vega, who missed a large chunk of the first half with foul trouble.

“This was a big win,” Stevenson said. “We came out on defense and shared the ball. When we play like that we do well. It changes the game.”

But it was the defensive end where the Spartans made their biggest mark. They were aggressive, relentless, and made the Bruins pay for their mistakes.

“That kind of defense is what we should be doing every game,” Stevenson said. “Our bench stepped up today and every played hard and aggressive.”

The Spartans had a balanced scoring attack on the evening. In addition to Stevenson’s 17, Tyson Durrant and Josh Pilling added 11 points apiece, while Vega had 10. Minico outscored Twin Falls 41-28 in the second half.

“When Jeremy, Josh and those guys start rolling, it’s awfully fun,” Shippen said. “They’ve played a lot together and they have a lot of leadership. They lock in and they want to win.”

For Twin Falls, Parker Henry lead the was with 14 points. Evan Allen had 10 while Ryan Eller finished with 9.

Minico held a 52-40 advantage heading into the final period.

At one point, the Spartans lead by 22 points before a couple of late baskets from Henry closed the gap.

Twin Falls (3-8, 2-1 Great Basin Conference) hosts Burley Thursday evening.

“We need to see all the teams once, and we need to see which kids of ours can play under pressure,” Harr said. “We’re still in the stage. We just have to find a solid six or seven players. But we’ll find them. We’ll do it.”

Minico (9-1, 3-0), in control of the conference at this point, travels to Wood River Thursday for another league game.

“It’s one game at a time for us,” Shippen said. “We write on the board, ‘Play our game.’ That’s what we need to do. And it starts with defense.”

Minico 71, Twin Falls 53

Minico 71, Twin Falls 53

Twin Falls 12 13 15 13-53

Minico 11 19 22 19-71


Parker Henry 14, Jonah Lutz 2, Dallin Harris 2, Evan Allen 10, Ryan Eller 9, Zach Malina 2, Jacob Crist 5, Drew Moffitt 4, Preston Meyerhoeffer 5. Totals 17 16-26 53.


Peyton Bailey 6, Tyson Durrant 11, Chase Chandler 6, Carson Manning 4, Josh Pilling 11, Jeremy Stevenson 17, Colton Hardy 2, Matthew Brumley 4, Larry Vega 10. Totals 27 11-11 71.

Minico Defeats Rival Burley 60-50

Spartans Stand Tall in Clash of GBC Heavyweights

  • MICHAEL KATZ mkatz@magicvalley.com
  • Updated

This was no ordinary matchup, however.

This was a clash between what some believe to be two state championship contenders.

In a heavyweight bout between the top two teams in the latest IdahoSports.com poll in the 4A classification, No. 2 Minico took down No. 1 Burley, 60-50, in a game that had the physicality of a state championship battle despite it being an early-season Great Basin Conference contest. That’s just how the Spartans and Bobcats play when they meet a few times a year.

“No matter if it’s one vs. two or the bottom of the conference or state, whenever Burley and Minico get together, it’s always a pretty special environment,” Minico coach Ty Shippen said. “It’s just a fun atmosphere, no matter what the rankings are.”

Minico (7-1) got off to a quick start behind the sharp shooting of Josh Pilling, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter that propelled the Spartans to six point lead heading into the second.

That lead quickly inflated to 11 points just a minute into the second on a pair of easy Minico lay ups. But just when it looked as if Minico was going to run Burley (7-3) out of its own gym, the Bobcats began forcing turnovers and got the game back to within six with three minutes remaining in the half and trailed by just seven at the half.

“We knew it would take our best to beat them. We had too many turnovers in the first half and then we had a hard time finishing around the basket,” Burley coach Jack Bagley said. “The first half, we let our emotions get the best of us. We panicked sometimes and allowed them to get a big lead.”

Burley made its move in the third quarter, cutting its deficit to just five points at one point before falling behind by 11 at the end of the period. A layup and free throw from Britton Garrard early in the fourth brought the Bobcats to within seven. But that was as close as Burley would get despite a few late 3-pointers, as Minico forced stops on defense and made enough late free throws to seal the deal. The Spartans shot a staggering 36 free throws compared to 21 for the Bobcats. There were hard fouls on both sides and elbows being thrown down low the entirety of the game, partly leading to the high number of free throws. But that’s just happens to be the nature of the rivalry.

“When you’re playing you rivals there’s definitely lots of emotions between these two groups,” said Shippen. “So that’s what makes it definitely fun. I think they have a lot of respect for each other. If you’re playing your brother you’re going to go hard and then afterwards you’re still going to shake hands.”

Minico was led by 16 points and 15 rebounds from Josh Pilling. Jeremy Stevenson had 15 while Matthew Brumley chipped in 11. Britton Garrard led the Bobcats with 18. The victory is likely to push the Spartans to the top of the next set of rankings in the IdahoSports and media polls. Still, Shippen isn’t celebrating a state championship yet. Even in the victory over a strong Burley team, the third-year head coach saw work to be done.

“We do have a lot of things to improve on,” Shippen said. “Only time will tell (how good we are).”

And as for Bagley and his Burley squad? There’s a lot of season left and, more importantly, the season does not hinge on his young team defeating Minico. They know they can beat the Spartans and proved that they could go toe-to-toe. But going to state takes more perspective than focusing on just a couple of games against a rival.

“We’re fortunate that we get to take two teams to state (from our conference),” Bagley said. “We don’t have to beat Minico to get there … It’s not like we can’t beat Minico, but we’re just going too have to play a lot better to do that because they are a good squad.”

Minico Cruises Past Tigers in Early GBC Test

RUPERT | So much for having to shake the rust off after a long winter break.

Behind a huge third quarter effort where Minico outscored Jerome 25-10, the Spartans cruised to a 56-34 win over the Tigers in the Great Basin Conference opener for both teams, the first games for both squads since Dec. 19.

“In conference, it’s always good to hold the home court,” Minico coach Ty Shippen said. “I thought our defensive effort, especially in the first half, was very good … I’m just real proud of our kids to come out in conference after having about two and a half weeks off since our last game. So it was good to get back on the floor again.”

While the first half wasn’t the prettiest basketball for either squad, the Spartans were still able to jump out to an eight point lead after the first and led by 14 at the half. In the third quarter Minico found its groove, however, and went up by as many as 35 points. After the stellar third period, the fourth was never really in doubt. Josh Pilling led the Spartans with 17 points while Peyton Bailey had 16. Jeremy Stevenson chipped in 12 points, all of them coming in the third.

“In the first half we were really choppy and not real smooth,” said Shippen. “So we just got back to our transition offense and that kind of got us going.”

Minico has not been to the state playoffs since 2011. In recent seasons the Great Basin Conference has belonged to Twin Falls and Burley. But this year the Bruins are off to a rocky start. Instead it is Burley and Minico, the traditional rivals, who stand at the top. While there is a long way to go, Shippen likes what he sees from his squad. He thinks they have a chance to make some noise at the end of January and into February.

“We’re still not playing our best basketball yet, which I think is a good thing. I just really love the kids. They’re fun to coach,” Shippen said. “This team definitely has potential to (make a run). It definitely always comes down to the end, how you’re playing at the end of the season. But the fact is they have a lot of pieces that fit very nicely and we can do a lot of different things with what we have. And so definitely, the potential is there.”