Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Jivaro repeats 73-68 as Tullis pumps in 28

Rocky Mountain Hardware fights to second in Outlaw League

Jivaro Headhunters leader Mike Payne drives the lane for a bucket during Thursday’s 73-68 Jivaro triumph over Rocky Mountain Hardware/Soundwave on the Hailey hardwoods. Photo by David N. Seelig

Nampa High School's Darrell Tullis and Wood River High School's David Morgan dominated the Idaho prep basketball courts in about the same era, around 1991 and 1992.

They're mid-30s now, but Tullis and Morgan are still dominant—at least they were Thursday night in the championship game of the Sun Valley Co. Men's Basketball League at The Community Campus gym.

Tullis, 36, led Jivaro Headhunters (12-4) to its second straight Outlaw League tournament championship. He scored a game high 28 points with eight rebounds in Jivaro's 73-68 victory over regular-season champion Rocky Mountain Hardware/Soundwave (15-3) on the Hailey hardwoods.

Morgan (18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists) was almost as good. He scored 13 of his points in the second half as Rocky Mountain Hardware battled back from a 13-point deficit into a three-point game, at 68-65, with only two minutes left.

At that point former Nampa basketball captain Tullis (three 3-pointers) took over the game. He pumped home a spin move in traffic then stole a Soundwave pass and went coast-to-coast for the back-breaker at 72-66 with 80 ticks on the clock.

It was an undefeated tournament finish for Jivaro, last year's wire-to-wire league champion with a 21-0 record—the seventh unbeaten squad in Outlaw League annals. This winter, 2001-03 league king Jivaro started slowly with a 1-2 mark and then won 11 of its last 13 games to seal the deal.

But it didn't start out well.

Rocky Mountain Hardware, riding the momentum of its come-from-behind 84-78 overtime win over third-place Growing Concern (13-3) March 10—Morgan scoring 22 in that one—had seven different scorers and eight different rebounders in surging ahead of Jivaro 31-23 about 18 minutes into the 25-minute first half.

Jivaro, sparked by four Tullis free throws, two of the technical variety, went on a 12-0 run to pull ahead for good 35-31. During the surge Tullis nailed a 3-pointer, Mike Payne stole a ball and made a fast break lay-up and Ron Harrison drilled a 3-pointer to put Jivaro on top.

In the last seven minutes of the first half, Jivaro's 16-2 run gave the eventual champions a 39-33 halftime advantage. It was Jivaro's eighth time in nine years in the league championship game and their experience showed, despite having only six players for the final game.

But Morgan and his teammate Luke Macdonald refused to let Soundwave die. A senior on Wood River High School's last winning team, in 1991-92, Morgan kept pounding the ball at the basket and Macdonald came on strong, with 11 of his 15 points and seven of his eight rebounds after intermission.

Jivaro nevertheless had enough gas in its tank, inspired as always by its leader Payne. The senior co-captain of coach Dick Richel's 1981-82 Wood River team that had a 15-game win streak and a 17-5 record, Payne (3 rebounds, 2 steals, 4 assists) finished the game with 17 points to support Tullis.

Other scorers for Jivaro He adhunters: Erik Lisk (8 points, 8 rebounds), Adrian Charbonnet (7 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists), Ron Harrison (7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists) and Dan Willett (6 points).

Rocky Mtn./Soundwave: Christian Nickum (11 points, three 3-pointers), Ross McAllister (11 points, 5 boards), Matt Marks (6 points, 4 rebounds), Jeff Burrell (3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 assists), Mike Malko (2 points, 2 boards), Justin Herald (2 points) and Kenny Nelson (2 rebounds).

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