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Unbeaten Box Elder boys eyeing program's fourth state title and first since 2016

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 18, 2024

BOX ELDER — The Box Elder boys basketball team is looking unstoppable, and partial credit is due to their shortcomings at the 2023 divisional tournament.

Led by a core group of juniors, Box Elder is 10-0, is ranked No. 3 in the MTN Sports Class C boys power rankings, and has its eyes set on picking up where it left off last season. The 2022-2023 Bears lost by three points in the semifinals to Belt at the divisional tournament, and was kept out of the state tournament with a second loss to Roy-Winifred.

“Losing that game was a really humbling experience,” said junior guard Tracen Jilot. “Kind of thought it would just be easy to run through everybody and win state but that didn’t happen, so it lit a fire in us juniors mostly.”

“That was one of the worst losses I ever had. I felt bad, and it was pretty heartbreaking,” said junior forward Tuarie Stiffarm-Rosette. “We talk about that game a lot and it fuels our fire under us to keep going and try to get past that to eventually make it to state.”

Not only did those losses help this Box Elder squad to become even more dominant, but it was the all around tournament experience. Playing in those close games on that big of a stage prepared the Bears for future tournament runs, and allowed them to bring that tournament level of play into their regular-season games.

“I think the experience really helps us, knowing what we are getting into during that post season. The environment, the crowd, just the overall play and tempo just helped us for this year,” said Jilot.

The Bears program has won three total state titles, with the two most recent ones coming under current head coach Jeremy MacDonald. Many of the players on this years team saw the success of those that came before them and it kick-started their drive to win. Jilot, one of the players that looked up to those state title teams, is hoping to lead his team to the same glory.

At this point in the season, Jilot is averaging 29 points, 5 assist, 4 rebounds, and 5 steals.

“I think it would mean a lot, especially to the young guys. You know, growing up watching Brandon and them play and winning two state titles. That made me want to push harder as a youngin’,” said Jilot,

“We want to play our best basketball in a month. Go out and finish the regular season strong, handle business in the 9C, and get to the Northern C and pick up where we left off and hopefully finish that job,” said MacDonald.

“Tournament basketball, you just want to keep playing. If you keep playing you've got a shot, and hopefully we make a deeper run than we did last year.”