NAMPA - The last time the Melba High School boys basketball team played in a state final, head coach Spencer Trappett was in the stands as a fan.
So actually being on the floor of the Ford Idaho Center during one, much less winning the first one since 2011, had a completely different feel to it.
“So this is what this feels like,” said Spencer, who didn’t start coaching until 2013, in his postgame speech following a 59-50 win over defending champion St. Maries Saturday in the Idaho Class 2A State Final at the Ford Idaho Center. “It’s awesome.”
And long overdue.
The Mustangs (24-2) hadn’t even been out of the first round since their last championship 11 years ago. Which is why maybe, despite 12 straight wins to end the regular season and being ranked No. 1 in the final state media poll, MaxPreps seeded them fourth.
“We kind of just took that to the heart and wanted to prove everybody wrong,” said sophomore Cache Beus, who notched a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. “And we did.”
Melba proved it by finally getting over the first-round hump by edging Ambrose - the same team it beat for the district title - 48-45 Thursday.
“To get that win there, it just gave us a huge boost,” Trappett said. “We got that monkey off our back. You kind of (saw) the kids settle down and start playing ball.”
The confidence carried over into the semis by knocking off North Fremont, which had won two out of the last three state titles and Saturday.
After falling into an early 9-2 hole in the opening quarter, the Mustangs went on an 11-0 run and went into the break up 25-16. It never trailed again.
The lead grew to as much as 17 points at 51-34 with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game. It prompted Trappett to empty out the bench a few moments later while leading 57-44 with just 1 minute and 13 seconds left.
But quick back-to-back 3s over the next 30 seconds, resulted in the starters going back in - just to be on the safe side. There was no need to fear. Junior Braden Volkers knocked down a pair of free throws and the Lumberjacks (20-4) didn’t score another bucket. So the celebration that had started on the bench, could officially recommence at center court.
"I've been here four years, made it to state three times, it's unreal ending my career like this," said senior Joe Reiber, who finished with a game-high 22 points and seven rebounds. "I've always wanted to do it, we've had the team to do it and this year we stuck together as a team and did it."
The title particularly meant a lot to Reiber because he had dedicated the season to his grandmother Donita Olsen. She died just a few days after the season opener.
“I told myself I’m going to get this for her,” said Reiber. “It feels really good to get it for her.”
Volkers also reached double figures with 14 points for the Mustangs, who became the first District III team to win the championship since Cole Valley Christian a decade ago.
“You got to look at the overall big picture,” Trappett said. “I think District III is one of the toughest, if not the toughest district in the state.”
St. Maries was led by junior Greyson Sands and senior Tristan Gentry-Nelson, who had 12 and 11 points, respectively.