He has always been capable on the basketball court, but 6-4 senior wing Bryan Tidwell finally busted loose with a memorable performance for the Wood River Wolverines Wednesday night in Hailey.
Tidwell scored 29 points with 17 rebounds for Wood River (1-6) in a 65-52 non-conference loss to the Idaho 4A #2-ranked Hillcrest Knights (8-1) at the high school gym. In the first half alone, Tidwell scored 14 of Wood River's 22 points.
Many of Tidwell's points were tough shots, achieved with post moves against a Hillcrest defense waiting for him.
Keep in mind Hillcrest just isn't any team. Possibly one year away from legitimate state championship hopes with their nine juniors and three seniors, the Knights (6-0 road) are ranked behind only Skyview (8-0), and of course are the reigning State 4A football champs.
And Hillcrest is lights out from the perimeter. In its 72-58 home win over Skyline Saturday, five different Knights canned 3-pointers and 11 of the Hillcrest 29 field goals were from behind the arc. But Tidwell turned a few Hillcrest heads with his own shooting.
Tidwell's 29 points were the most points scored by a Hailey player in 15 seasons and nearly 320 games dating back to a 31-point night by 6-4 senior Josh Berens in a 70-57 home win over Snake River on Dec. 17, 1993. Tidwell's previous high was 14 in Wood River's only win of the season, 55-34 at Buhl Dec. 13.
His big show Wednesday included three soft 3-pointers, an 8-for-8 effort at the free throw line, two steals, two assists and a monster dunk after Tidwell stole the ball and outran two Knights down the court early in the fourth quarter.
Tidwell improved his scoring average from 7.3 to 10.4 ppg.
"It was a great performance on Bryan's part," said coach John Radford. "We talked after the Mountain Home game (a 58-34 road loss Jan. 2, Tidwell with 2 points) about how he had taken himself out of that game. He came into tonight's game with a definite focus. Hopefully it will be a springboard for continued successes this season."
Tidwell had seven of his 17 rebounds in the second period when Wood River held the high-scoring Hillcrest attack (65.0 ppg) to just eight points with a very aggressive and scrappy man-to-man defense.
Actually, Wood River came out with a 1-3-1 zone defense to try to counter Hillcrest's 3-point shooting. It worked for a while, with Michale Brunker and Juan Martinez applying tons of pressure on the perimeter, but Hillcrest senior Justin Coffin (18 points, 4 rebounds) slipped away for three 3-pointers in the first quarter and Hillcrest quickly turned a 9-9 tie into a 20-11 cushion after one period.
Then, Hillcrest didn't score for the first 3:32 and didn't have a field goal until nearly six minutes were gone in the second. Why? "Good, hard man-to-man defense," said Radford.
The underdog Wolverines, 34-point losers at Hillcrest in the Dec. 3 season opener, stayed within striking distance of the Knights until a turnover-fueled 13-0 run at the end of the third quarter turned a five-point Hillcrest lead into a 52-34 blowout after three. Wood River had 22 turnovers for the game, many in ball handling
But The Show was Tidwell
He stayed out of foul trouble, went 6-for-6 at the charity stripe in the third quarter and finished his night with nine points in the fourth quarter. Tidwell helped Wood River (41.0 ppg) score 11 points more than its season average.
Other Wolverine contributors included Brent Hope (11 points, 5 rebounds), Brunker (6 points, 4 steals), Sean Bunce (2 points, 3 rebounds), Martinez (2 points) and sophomore reserve Collin Dean (2 points, 2 steals). Seniors Greg Wakefield and James Todd didn't play.
Eleven Knights scored, led by Coffin and Jordan Johnson (10 points, 7 steals, 6 assists).
Wood River travels to Kimberly (6-2) today, Friday and goes to #4-ranked Jerome (8-2) for its Great Basin Conference West debut Tuesday, Jan. 13. Kimberly, a 50-41 overtime winner over American Falls Tuesday, beat Wood River 57-44 in Hailey Dec. 16. Jerome lost 73-59 in overtime to host Century on Wednesday.
The Wood River-Minico league games at Rupert that were postponed Dec. 19 have been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 12 on the Minico hardwoods. That means six of the final 10 Wood River games will be Great Basin West clashes.