State-bound WR boys explode
64-50 victory for Trenkle’s
By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer
Riley Neff, a blue-collar hero in
the trenches for Wood River High School, came out of the locker room
Wednesday night at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls feeling
about as good as he’s ever felt in his entire life.
by a moth.” That is what coach Fred Trenkle linked his team’s effort
to before the Wolverines rallied to beat Kimberly 64-50 at CSI Wednesday
and earn a berth in the state tournament. Here, Trenkle gets his point
across to Brady Femling and Matt Pruett and the pair responded. Femling
scored a game-high 20 points and Pruett posted a season-high 13.
Express photo by David N. Seelig
Neff had just played "Mr. Inside,"
for Wood River, pulling down six rebounds and scoring 11 points in the
second half against the Kimberly Bulldogs. Assistant coaches Jim
Boatwright and John Radford had just assured Riley’s proud grandparents
that he was the Most Valuable Player of the game.
One of many, indeed.
Wood River’s other MVP was its
"Mr. Outside," junior point guard Brady Femling, who burned the ‘Dogs
for a season-high 20 points including five 3-pointers. In fact, the
Wolverines had another MVP, senior Matt Pruett, whose intense defensive
play and season-high 13 points sparked the Hailey squad to another
So, this was the question posed to
Riley Neff, who it seemed like any second would break into a broad grin:
How was it that Wood River was able to erase an 11-point second-half
deficit and outscore Kimberly by an incredible 24-7 score in the fourth
"We just needed to get tough,"
said Neff, a 6-3 senior forward who is usually the second or third
player off coach Fred Trenkle’s deep bench.
Then Neff discarded any notions of
political correctness and found himself saying the one thing all the
Wood River players were saying to themselves after Wednesday’s truly
amazing come-from-behind 64-50 win over Kimberly on the CSI hardwoods.
"I’m an All-Star," he said,
reflecting the belief and confidence that first-year coach Trenkle and
his staff have instilled in all 12 Wolverines over three months and 23
One Wood River parent likened
Wednesday’s victory to a miracle—not only because it gave the Hailey
school its first State 3A tournament berth in 13 years, but also because
it came on the heels of three near-disastrous seasons.
Wood River won only seven of 66
games from 2001-03. They lost 16 of their final 17 games just a year
ago. They had lost their Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference tournament
games by 26 and 19 points last year, and by 26 and 15 points the year
This year, with Trenkle promising
to restore Wood River’s respect, the streaking Wolverines (11-12) went
on a late-season run. They won eight of their last 10 and captured three
of their four SCIC tourney games to earn second place in the six-school
And now the blue-collar
Wolverines, molded in the image of their scrappy blue-collar coach from
Shoshone, are headed to Meridian High School for the eight-team State 3A
tournament beginning Thursday, March 4 at Meridian High School.
Wednesday’s 14-point triumph over
#2-seeded Kimberly (13-9), combined with Tuesday night’s loser-out 58-55
triumph over #4-seeded Filer (7-14) on the same CSI floor, gave
#3-seeded Wood River an automatic berth in the state tournament as the
second-place team out of the SCIC.
It’s only the eighth time Wood
River has qualified for state. The last time was 1991 under coach Norm
Two other times, in 1974 and 1975,
Trenkle coached Wood River teams to state. In fact, the only other time
Wood River went to state in the Boise Valley was 1974, when the
Wolverines scored their highest-ever state finish, second behind
After Wednesday’s state-qualifying
game, Trenkle said, "We overcame a lot of things. Different people
sparked us. The kids who came off the bench gave us a lift, then the
starters got back in and caught fire. We played a tough 4A schedule this
year—maybe it gave us a lift here at the tournament."
Senior Joe Paisley, the tough
little guard and frequent Trenkle whipping post, put his finger on the
reason for Wood River’s success this year.
Paisley said, "The reason we did
what we did is because of the practices coach Trenkle put us through. We
knew exactly what it was going to take to win the games. We had to stay
with other teams, and get them at the end."
Defense is the cornerstone of
every Trenkle team.
Wednesday, in the most critical
stretch of the most important game of the season, Wood River’s zone
defense held Kimberly to just one field goal, a Jace Dille 3-pointer, in
the entire fourth quarter. The ‘Dogs didn’t score a field goal in the
final six minutes.
"Defense did it," said Pruett, who
succeeded in the tough assignment of guarding 6-2 junior Darin Musser
(17 points, 2 in the second half). "Then we’d just push it up the court
on the fast break. We got Kimberly into foul trouble. Starting at the
end of the third quarter, they tired a little."
Playing all four quarters
Wood River’s SCIC tournament
obstacles were Filer and Kimberly.
The Wolverines took care of Filer
52-38 in the opener Feb. 17. After losing down the homestretch to
Kimberly 52-45 Monday, they needed to eliminate the Wildcats 58-55
Tuesday to earn another shot at Kimberly.
Wood River built a 36-23 half-time
lead over Filer, went to sleep in the third quarter then held on for the
three-point victory. Jeremy Selcho scored 12 points, Femling 11 and
leading scorer Jason Hofman 10.
Meanwhile, top-seeded Declo (17-3)
throttled Kimberly 77-51 Tuesday night, meaning the Bulldogs went into
Wednesday’s do-or-die game after a loss. "The hardest games to win are
those after you lose," Trenkle said.
The first half was a fierce
battle, with 11 lead changes and two ties. Kimberly’s defense led by 6-4
senior Ricky Zodrow down low and long-armed Musser out on the perimeter
literally took the entry pass away from Wood River’s attack. That wasn’t
a good sign for Trenkle’s offense that has relied on the scoring of big
Musser, a thorn in Wood River’s
side each time the teams played, was immense in the first half, with 13
points and 7 rebounds. Hailey didn’t have any big scorers but there was
a good first-half omen—the Wolverines getting scoring from six players.
Another good omen was the fact
that Trenkle, from the opening bell Wednesday, was on his feet and
yelling and exhorting and reminding the referees about their
questionable vision and misdeeds.
Things deteriorated in the first
four minutes of the third quarter as Kimberly went on an 11-4 run
propelled by the outside shooting of Jace Dille (13 points) and the
inside strength of J.J. Shawver (12 points, 5 boards). When Trenkle
called time out, Kimberly’s lead was 37-26.
Trenkle, the Sage of Shoshone,
pulled Plan B out of his pocket. He yanked his starters out of the game,
leaving only Femling to direct traffic and withstand Kimberly’s press.
And that’s when Neff and Femling started getting Wood River back into
"I told them we had to push
through it and score," Trenkle said.
Dylan Fullmer pushed the ball up
the court and Neff buried a 16-footer. Femling’s 3-point attempt bounced
off the iron, but Neff grabbed it and put it home and converted the
old-fashioned blue-collar 3-point play. Femling fed Pruett for a fast
break basket. Selcho popped from 12 feet.
With 12 seconds left in the third,
Pruett ripped the ball away from Kimberly on a trap and gave Wood River
one final possession, down 43-37. And Femling made no mistake, firing a
3-pointer into the net like a slingshot at the buzzer to bring fans to
Femling, who drilled a season-high
five 3-pointers, was a picture of confidence when he slipped into the
paint and lifted a looping runner guaranteed to rise over the Kimberly
shot-blockers (10 blocked shots in the last two meetings of teams). It
stayed in the air forever but came down in the right place.
Kimberly’s lead shriveled to
After a Bulldog turnover, Femling
nailed his fourth 3-pointer for a 45-43 Hailey lead. That’s when the
Bulldogs made their last stand against the withering Wolverine rally.
With Zodrow and Shawver battling down low, they went on a 5-0 run for a
48-45 lead. And that’s when Neff stepped up.
Scott Bohrer missed two free
throws, but Neff rebounded the second miss and banked it home. Then Neff
collected a short Pruett shot and made the putback for a 49-48 Wolverine
lead. He was fouled, and missed, but Pruett grabbed the board and lured
Shawver into his fourth foul. Pruett made the first, 50-48.
At the other end, Musser, with
Pruett in his face, was way off on a 3-pointer. Kimberly was dragging,
while Wood River was picking up the pace. Neff said, "It got to the
point where Kimberly was just putting it up."
Femling came back, took a pass on
the baseline from Pruett and lined a 3-pointer that hit the rim and
popped up in the air and somehow fell in. It was up in the air long
enough for Shawver to foul Neff in all the jostling underneath. Shawver
was gone. 53-48.
What did it mean to get Shawver
out of the game? Neff said with a sly grin, "It meant I got two free
And he made both rainbows from the
With Wood River’s lead grown to
55-48 and two minutes left, it also meant that brave Kimberly was nearly
a goner as well. For the first time, Trenkle even relaxed a little,
looking up at his wife Juanita in the stands as if to say, we’re there.
Juanita put up the caution flag and Trenkle got back to work.
Pruett and Paisley, sensing the
inevitable, picked the Bulldogs apart for a couple of transition hoops
that kept the Wolverine fans on their feet. By the end, the Hailey crowd
was shouting "Trenkle! Trenkle!" The green-shirted victors rushed onto
the floor, hugging each other. "The locker room felt pretty good," said
Trenkle never really made it to
the locker room.
For 15 minutes, he greeted every
well-wisher who wanted a hug, or a quick conversation, or to give him a
thank you for a job well done or any kind of acknowledgement from the
master coach. He waded triumphantly through his people, like so many
other nights before when he was CSI coach.
Trenkle, who coached 10 CSI teams
to a 329-36 record and had a 137-game home winning streak back when
Femling was in kindergarten, consoled Kimberly coach Roger Keller
("Roger, you have a bunch of warriors—we just had a couple more people
And, of course, he summoned the
age-old story of the moths in his post-game comments through a
microphone, in front of the adoring crowd.
His voice hoarse from yelling and
cracking from emotion, Trenkle recounted the story of his first trip to
state with Wood River 30 years ago. He told the crowd about how the Twin
Falls newspaper came up with a phrase that described Wood River’s
"They said it’s like being
devoured by a moth," Trenkle said.
"We are the moths."
And the Wood River moths even got
an apparent break with the state tournament schedule. While reigning
state champion Declo has to open up against last year’s state runner-up
Preston at 1:15 p.m. next Thursday, Wood River will meet Fruitland at 8
p.m. at Meridian High School.
Fruitland upset coach Dale Karst’s
once-beaten Middleton Vikings 36-34 Tuesday night, in the Third District
championship game at Middleton. Karst scored 872 points for Wood River
from 1983-85 and played for Trenkle on CSI’s 1987 national title team,
so it’s now less likely that Middleton and Wood River will meet.
Results from the final two SCIC
games for Wood River:
WR 64-50 over Kimberly:
Brady Femling 20 points, Matt Pruett 13, Riley Neff 11, Jason Hofman 6,
Jeremy Selcho 6, Joe Paisley 4, Kory Ott 2, Scott Bohrer 2. Rebounds
(32)—Selcho 7, Neff 6, Hofman 6, Femling 5. Steals—Femling 2,
Bohrer 2. Assists—Paisley 6, Femling 5. 3-pointers—Femling
5. FT—9-16. Opp FT—6-9.
WR 58-55 over Filer:
Femling 12 points, Selcho 12, Hofman 10, Paisley 6, Bohrer 6, Brian Ward
5, Neff 3, Ott 2, Pruett 2. 3-pointers—Femling 2, Bohrer 2, Ward
1. FT—13-17. Opp FT—13-18.
WR season statistics (23
games): Offense—49.2 ppg (54.8 tourney). Defense—51.8 ppg
(48.8 tourney). Free throws—WR 244-438 (56%) including 46-66
(70%) tourney. Opposition—196-322 (61%) including 32-52 (62%) tourney.
Top season individual scorers—Jason Hofman 11.1 ppg, Jeremy
Selcho 7.8 (10.0 tourney), Brady Femling 7.0 (12.5 tourney), Kory Ott
6.4, Scott Bohrer 5.2. 3-pointers (53)—Femling 22 (18 in last 10
games), Bohrer 13, Ward 12.