POCATELLO — Preslie Merrill got down on one knee, bowed her head and lifted her cupped hands up to the face of Ashton Adamson. It looked like a faux proposal or a recreation of a popular meme involving the Pope.
Instead, just before the fourth quarter began, Merrill was holding up an imaginary bowl. Adamson did her best Ezekiel Elliott imitation as she twirled her right hand like she was shoveling spoonfuls of cereal into her mouth.
It was a apropos metaphor. On Friday, Adamson’s teammates just needed to feed her.
In Century’s 58-26 win over Pocatello, the 5-foot-11 guard recorded a game-high 25 points on a shooting display that sent the Diamondbacks’ side into a frenzy. She was 9 for 14 shooting and drained seven 3-pointers, including five in the second quarter alone.
“That’s what happens when you let someone feel comfortable,” Pocatello coach Sunny Evans said with a chuckle.
“She’s capable of doing that. She hasn’t been shooting the ball well and I think tonight gave her some confidence,” Century coach Chris Shuler added. “She knows she can be a good shooter and I’m so happy for her. Hopefully it continues.”
It got to a point on Friday — around the middle of the second quarter — when Adamson’s shot attempts elicited a crowd-wide gasp. Everyone started to just expect the ball to go in.
She’d plant her multi-colored Nikes in a wide, crooked stance, jump forward and flick the ball in a manner that made it spin sideways on a flat trajectory. Then the orange leather would zip through the net to feverish applause.
“It was so exciting. I was like, ‘OK, I can’t miss, let’s keep going,’” she said. “I like having teammates who trust me to shoot it. And even if I’m missing, they’re like, ‘Just keep shooting, because we know you’re going to make it.’”
And, perhaps, that noise is the key was the key to Adamson’s success against Poky. She made sure to point out that Friday was the first game the Diamondbacks played this season with some semblance of fans inside the gym. It may not be the raucous environment that the normal Century-Pocatello game would bring but, hey, at least their parents could watch.
For someone like Adamson — who admitted, “If I miss I get down on myself” — that extra crowd boost has the potential to make all the difference.
“You can tell that the kids have missed that,” Shuler said. “My girls just came out with some emotion and you could tell they had a fire lit and they just wanted to go.”
That was evident right away. Century led 11-0 after the first quarter and 30-8 at halftime. The Diamondbacks forced Pocatello into 25 turnovers through the first three quarters, many of which they took the other way for easy transition points. Century point guard Tenleigh Smith, who hit a pair of triples and finished with a dozen points, diced up the Indians’ defense and allowed shooters, like Adamson, to have clean looks.
It was a dichotomy for two conference foes on different ends of the 4A Division 5 spectrum. For the Indians, who had to postpone a number of games after a positive COVID test within the program delayed their season, it showed they’re still building.
“We knew we had a long stretch. We’ve had several weeks where we’ve had three games a week,” Evans said. “We have to keep working to build things.”
For Shuler and the Diamondbacks, Friday was the realization that they’ll have another offensive weapon at their disposal as they inch towards their goal of winning a state title.
“Ashton, with her length and her shooting, she is a crucial part of our team that we need to keep going,” Shuler said. “In my opinion, she’s peaking at the right time.”
Pocatello (1-12, 0-2 4A District 5) hosts Canyon Ridge on Saturday,
Century (11-5, 1-0) plays at Preston on Tuesday.
CENTURY 58, POCATELLO 26
Pocatello 0 8 9 9 – 26
Century 11 19 23 5 – 58
Pocatello – Tinno 6, Johnson 5, Pearson 4, Burt 3, Hokanson 2, Fullmer 2, Bunderson 2, Austin 2.
Century – Adamson 25, Te. Smith 12, Bull 6, Ta. Smith 4, Gardea 3, Butler 2, Merrill 2, Horsley 2, Sandy 2.