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BOISE - From Jacqueline Luna-Castro (Sweden) to Mandy Simpson (Oklahoma/Boise State) to Peyton McFarland (Utah), the Boise High School girls basketball team has produced some of the best players in the Treasure Valley in recent years.

But even with all of that talent, a district title still eluded the storied program for almost two decades.

Not anymore.

The No. 5 Brave ended its 18-year drought with a thrilling 44-36 overtime upset over No. 1 and crosstown 5A SIC rival Timberline in the District III championship game Friday night at Capital High School.

"I’ve been in this game quite a few times and always come up a little bit short, and not for a lack of trying," said Kim Brydges who is in her 17th year at the Boise helm. "This group is special. It’s a no-drama group. They are a lot of fun to work with."

Sophomore forward Avery Howell led three Brave players in double figures with a double-double of 10 points and 23 rebounds. Senior guard Ella Nelson and senior post Ashley Banks added 10 points apiece for Boise (19-3), which looked like it might suffer a third consecutive loss this season to the Wolves.

The Wolves (22-2) were up 36-33 with 1:04 remaining in regulation. With no shot clock, they had just successfully elapsed 1:20 when Brydges called a timeout. 

The stoppage strategy paid off.

Howell stole the inbounds pass from Northern Arizona University signee Sophie Glancey for the contested layin and foul. She then calmly sank the ensuing free throw to tie the game up at 36-36 with 54.7 seconds to go.

The wild sequence of events prompted the Boise student section to promptly chant her name.

"It was really exciting, but I kind of tried to stay calm because we still had four minutes of overtime," Howell said. "And that is a lot of time, especially against Timberline, who is a good team. We had to stay locked in and I couldn’t let up."

Both Boise and Timberline had a chance to win the game in regulation. Nelson’s layup attempt with 16.5 seconds to go hit iron before Timberline’s Lauren McCall’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell well short and forced overtime.

The extra four minutes belonged to the Brave, especially Ava Oakland. The Carroll College signee, whose only bucket previously came on a corner 3-pointer back in the first quarter, scored the first four points of the period. 

"I still had confidence in myself," Oakland said. "Yeah the shots weren’t falling for me, but I have other capabilities on the court like passing and defense. But getting those points in tight-knit situation is what we practice for every day in practice. So for all that hard work to eventually pay off is a great feeling."

The Brave never looked back after that. They forced NAU signee Audrey Taylor, who had a game-high 14 points, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, to foul out and kept the Wolves off the scoreboard completely in overtime. Timberline actually didn’t score for the final 9:03 of regulation and overtime.

"Defense has been something we’ve been stressing all year," Brydges said. "My assistant coach, Jake Miller, has been doing a tremendous job, we’ve been doing extra defensive breakdowns. The last time we played Timberline, to be honest, we weren’t pleased with our defensive effort. In fact, I had a spectator come up to me and ask, ‘What offense are they running where they’re just getting wide open under the basket?'"

The team that finally brought the plaque back to the school’s trophy case is different from the ones of years past. Boise doesn't have one of those aforementioned dominant players. It instead has multiple players who can go off at any time. 

The Brave has four players in Banks, Howell, Nelson and Oakland, who are all averaging better than 8.0 points per game. Banks will play for Southern Utah next season while Howell has offers from Boise State and Montana.

"I think it’s really powerful because you just can’t stop one player on our team," Howell said. "If you stop one of us, the other three are going to step up and I think that’s really dangerous to have on a team."

Boise won’t know its seed, opponent or tip-off time until after Saturday's state-play-in game between Owyhee and Post Falls. But the Brave does know it has won nearly every trophy at state over the last 20 years - except the blue one.

"Like Kobe (Bryant) used to say, ‘Job not done,'" Oakland said. "Although this was a great win, I think we’re also looking at the bigger picture."

(Featured photo by Julian Jenkins)