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MYMERIDIANPRESS.COM // 03.14.14

SPORTS



Ambrose finishes historic year second The Archers reached the state finals in their second year as a full IHSAA program by Michael Lycklama

mlycklama@idahopress.com © 2014 MERIDIAN PRESS

F

ive years ago, The Ambrose School’s boys basketball team played in a carpeted gym in a local league for Christian schools. But on March 8, the Archers stepped onto the court at the Idaho Center to fight for the 1A Division II state championship. Ambrose fell 63-59 to Salmon River, which completed a back-to-back basketball title run to go along with its back-to-back state football championships. But Ambrose reached the pinnacle of Idaho basketball in just its second year as a full member of the Idaho High School Activities Association. Ken Hosier has led the Ambrose program for nine years. The Archers fell two games short of the state tournament last year. Hosier knew he had the talent to compete this year. But with a young roster — Ambrose started three sophomores and a freshman in the state finals — he didn’t know what he’d get night in and night out. But Hosier said that youth turned into a blessing. “I think the youth might have helped them somewhat,” Hosier said. “Maybe they were naive to how big state is. They didn’t seem as nervous and kept pushing forward.” The Archers squeaked by Dietrich with a 65-63 overtime win in the state tournament opener, then beat Summit Academy 5944 to set up a rematch of the district finals with Salmon River. Ambrose pushed the defending state champs and the reigning All-Idaho player of the year, senior forward Leighton Vander Esch, to the brink in a game that featured a combined 49.4-percent shooting, 11 lead changes and six ties. The duo of 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Travis Yenor and 5-2 freshman guard Jaxon Hughes proved dynamic for the Archers (21-4) again. Yenor racked up 29 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and he finished the tournament averaging 26.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. “You could tell the first game he tried to put a lot of pressure on himself,” Hosier said. “I took him aside

AP

ABOVE: Ambrose’s Jaxon Hughes, right, drives to the basket around Salmon River’s McCoy Hale during the 1A Division II high school boys basketball state championship game March 8 at the Idaho Center. Salmon River won 63-59. BELOW LEFT: Ambrose’s Eason Boeck goes for a layup in the state championship game at the Idaho Center. BELOW RIGHT: Ambrose’s Travis Yenor drives past Salmon River’s Leighton Vander Esch.

and told him to trust his teammates, and he did. He wreaks lot of havoc.” Hughes added 12 points and finished the weekend averaging 13.3 points. But Vander Esch proved too much as he scored 37 points to set a classification scoring record.

But the Archers’ youth has momentum building toward next year and attention focused on the program as it jumps to the 1A Division I level. “The guys are already getting at it and wanting to work over the summer,” Hosier said.

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