BOONE — Their parents would likely answer “Jefferson” as in, “Greene County.” A good portion of their classmates would reply “ADM.”
But for a growing number of Perry athletes, “Boone” has become the choice for “the team I most want to beat.”
The past few years have seen incidents and outcomes in softball, volleyball and both boys and girls basketball that have elevated the Toreadors into the spot reserved for what may politely be described as “most disliked.”
There is little, if any, doubt that the young men and women who attend BHS feel exactly the same in regards the Bluejays and Jayettes, all of which will add to what is certain to be a charged atmosphere Thursday when the Jays visit the Toreadors in the Class 3A District 3 Finals. Both student sections can be expected to be at full voice.
The rivals will be meeting in the postseason for the third consecutive season, with Boone (17-5) doubtless itching to gain revenge for losses in the 2015 and 2016 playoffs.
Perry (12-9) swept the season series in 2015 and scored a 54-52 win in Gilbert in the district semifinals. Last year Boone was a 19-point winner at home, but lost by 29 at Perry in the rematch, with the Jays winning by 18, in Johnston, in the district finals.
This season has seen Boone win both RRC meetings en route to the league title. The Toreadors were 57-42 winners at home on January 17, then escaped in the last seconds for a 50-49 win at Perry February 7.
Neither team has shot well from the floor, with Perry a combined 32-of-96 (7-of-20 on 3-pointers) and Boone 41-of-101 (10-of-31 behind the arc) in their two most recent meetings. Boone has a 67-63 rebounding edge and has hit 15-of-19 at the foul line, while Perry has been ice cold, draining just 20-of-42.
Perry has been horrible at the line in their last five games, connecting on only 45-of-92 and has shot just 60.8 percent at the stripe this season while Boone shoots 71.5 percent. Boone has made 132 triples, with an accuracy of 35.1, with Perry landing just 78 on a 30 percent clip.
Boone leads in points per game (61.1 to 58), but Perry holds a slim 29.9 to 29.4 rebounding edge per contest.
The biggest factor on the boards is clearly Perry’s muscular 6-5 post Janier Puente. He has pulled down 230 rebounds — Gabe Krafcisin leads Boone with 123 — and his 90 offensive boards leads Class 3A.
Puente averages 18.9 points per game, Kyle Nevitt 13.1 and Rashon Ivory 10.3, with Conner Nielsen (6.5), Drew Levan (4.3) and Brandon Kenyon (3.4) also in the mix.
Nevitt has hit 41 3-pointers (34.2 percent) and grabbed 99 rebounds, with Ivory providing 93 assists and 33 steals while shooting 64-of-94 (68.1 percent) at the line. Nielsen has cleared 92 caroms, distributed 78 assists and swatted 28 shots.
Ethan Lewis boasts a 14.5 points per game average for Boone. He has hit 59 triples (45.7 percent) and shoots 89.5 percent at the stripe (77-of-86).
John Herrick (11.1 ppg, 46-of-59 at the line) and Krafcisin (8.0 ppg, 123 boards, 39 blocks) are also key fixtures, with Tanner Schminke (9.8 ppg, 26 treys, 87 rebounds and 63 assists) doing a little bit of everything, and doing it well.
Trevor VanPelt (7.2 ppg, 21 3-pointers), Justin Aspengrean (5.2 ppg, 94 rebounds) and Lane Losh (4.0 ppg, 87 rebounds) have also helped the team to 17 wins. Schminke, Lewish, Herrick and Aspengren all have at least 23 steals on the season.
Boone advanced to Thursday’s battle royal by blasting Humboldt, 68-42, immediately after Perry had downed Gilbert, 76-67, Tuesday. The winner will travel to Johnston Monday for the Substate 2 Finals, where they will meet the winner of Thursday’s District 4 Final between Ballard and host DC-G. Game times both Thursday and Monday are set for 7 p.m.