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Idaho Enterprise

Malad High School Dragons net state basketball crown Saturday—March 12, 1992

The following is a reproduction of the original article from 1992.  Because of the way it was placed on our pages, we are not able to reproduce an image of the original page itself, but the text and accompanying images are below:

The Malad Dragons proved worthy of their top ranking last week, sailing through the A-3 State Basketball Tournament to emerge the A-3 State Champions, the only undefeated team in the state of Idaho.  

They claimed the title by far outclassing a stellar tournament field.  While fellow unbeatens Lapwai and New Plymouth fell in the opening and semifinal rounds, Malad whisked past opponents by an average of more than 17 points per game to conclude the school’s best season ever.

Ranked #1 for most of the season, Malad racked up 26 wins and no losses for the season, playing one of the toughest schedules of any team in the state.  After their 77-64 win over Teton in the championship game, their overall win streak increases to 28.

Malad 64-Declo 45

The Dragons opened the State Tournament at 3:45 on Thursday afternoon in the Centennial High School Gymnasium against the Declo Hornets – a team they had defeated twice during the regular season.

Declo picked up the first bucket, but Malad answered quickly with a couple of their own, racing to an early 10-4 lead.

Both teams then traded baskets until a late Dragon blitz, led by Brandon Vaughan and Justin Jones, extended Malad’s lead out to 14-9 by the end of the first quarter.

Good defense in the second quarter, combined with hot shooting by Clint Bastian and Vaughan, ushered the Dragons to a commanding 28-13 lead before three late Dragon turnovers gave the Hornets new life.  Declo was able to close the gap only a little, however, before a last second basket by Dave Evans put the half time margin at 35-19, Malad leading by 16.

Starting out the second half somewhat tentative, the Dragons allowed the Hornets to score on their first six possessions and come within eight.  With Malad finally getting their momentum, however, they never got any closer.  The Dragons closed the quarter with a flurry by Vaughan, who pushed the margin back to 16, at 48-32.

 In the final quarter, the Dragons scored on their first four possessions, then developed turnover-it is, again allowing Declo to come back within eight, at 48-40.

But Clint Bastian continued his hot hand, and with clutch free throws by Jones, the Dragons regained control.  A last second bucket sealed the Malad victory at 64-45.

Coach Terry Jones was pleased to get this first game behind him, saying “First ball games at State are usually unpredictable, and with as many young and inexperienced players as we had, we were happy
to win.”

For the most part, worries about early tournament jitters failed to materialize.  Worries, too, over Justin Jones’ injured foot proved unnecessary, as the rest of the team picked up the slack.

In spite of his injury, the phenomenal senior guard pulled down 15 rebounds.  Nathan Knutsen grabbed 6 and Evans and Vaughan each got 5.

Hitting 17 of 19, the Dragons’ free throw performance was outstanding.  Nearly all of these came in the last quarter when Declo was trying to foul for profit.

Malad 60 – West Jefferson 41

For Friday evening’s semi-final round, Malad had anticipated a meeting with undefeated Lapwai.  However, when an inspired West Jefferson team rallied to upset the Wildcats in overtime, the script was rewritten.

The Dragons took it to the Panthers early, with balanced scoring between Jones, Bastian, Vaughan and Evans; and they cruised to a 19-7 first quarter lead.  Malad’s defense had numerous steals, putting a lor of pressure on West Jefferson ball handlers.

The second quarter winter set in.  Malad’s shooting went cold as they appeared to rely totally on outside shooting.  But while the Dragons managed a mere 11 points for the quarter, the West Jefferson Panthers didn’t fare much better.  The half time score of 30-19 had MAlad out front by 11.

Both teams traded baskets in the early going of the third quarter, with neither able to sustain much offense.  Dave Evans got three buckets, along with a couple by Jones, and the quarter ended a rather low scoring affair at 43-30.  The Dragons were still
out front.

Jumping our 54-30 behind good defense and the outside shooting of Bastian and Vaughan, Malad finally picked up the pace in the
fourth period.

Before the game ended, however, the Dragons’ old nemesis, turnover-itis, allowed West Jefferson to cut the final margin back to 60-41.

Nathan Knutsen and Justin Jones led the Dragons in rebounds, pulling down 7 and 8 respectively.  Coach Jones was pleased with Knutsen’s effort, as he had been sick during the day but was still able to make several good assists and help lead in

Once again, a few lazy passes made the turnover ratio a little bit more than he would have liked.

Malad 77 – Teton 64

At 3:45 p.m. in the Boise State Bronco Pavillion the Malad Dragons lined up against the Teton Redskins, with the A-3 State championship on the line.

Teton took an early 4-3 lead, but that was their last.  Vaughan, Jones, and Evans took control of Malad’s offense, scoring seven unanswered points and putting Malad up 11-4.  The Dragons finished the quarter in similar fashion, holding a 5-point advantage at the end of one.

Jones appeared to have shaken off some of the effects of his injured foot.  He added ten points in the initial

The Dragon defense took control in the second half.  Spurred by the rebounding of Nathan Knutsen, the offense of Jones, Bastian, and Forest Thomas went on a 17-2 scoring run that pushed Malad’s lead to 20 points before settling in at a comfortable 21-24 at half time.  

The third period was a trade off as both teams worked hard but neither could gain much ground.  Dave Evans led the Malad offense with three big buckets.  A couple of Dragon turnovers let Teton maintain their contact and the period closed with Malad on top 57-40.

Some long bombs, coupled with an aggressive Teton attack, allowed the Redskins to cut the margin back to 12, at 60-57, but Malad’s free throw shooters kept their composure, hitting 27 of 33 for the ball game, 18 of 21 in the final period, and the Dragons had the championsjip with a solid victory over the Teton Redskins.

With 9 boards, Knutsen led in rebounding, while Jones had 7.

A very proud Coach Jones credited his team with an outstanding
team effort.

“Each player knew his role and contributed his strong points to the team,” he said.  “The players were unselfish.  They worked hard every day in practice, and they concentrated on the task at hand.  WE never overlooked anybody we played.  We showed up to play each and every opponent we met.”

Jones said his team’s ability to play together, coupled with their good attitude, no doubt has been the biggest factor in their success this year.  “Chemistry on a team is probably more important than overall talent,” he said, “and that was certainly the case this year, as we had several young and inexperienced players combined with veterans to provide a fantastic season.”

He credited his four seniors—Dave Evans, Clint Budge, Lamont Kotter, and Justin Jones—for their leadership.  “They kept a good attitude all year,” Jones said. “Some of them wanted to play a little more, but they contributed a positive mental attitude and kept what was best for the team first.  And that’s what’s important.”


Two Dragon players went into the State Tournament record book.  Clint Bastian borke a tournament record with twelve 3-pointers in his games, while Justin Jones broke his record of  16 free throws made in a single game.

The records, however, were the frosting on the cake, said
Coach Jones.

“The nice thing about these kids is that they didn’t go into the game looking for records.  The records came as part of their goal of playing well.  They weren’t setting anybody in particular to break a record.  They just happened.”

Justin Jones finished out his season the all time leading scorer in Amald High School history, accumulating a final total of 1,975 points.  The previous record was held by Todd Hubbard, who had 1,356 points.  Brett Daniels holds the State Tournament point record, with 100 points.

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