Idaho athletes lead the charge for Yotes Men's Basketball

CALDWELL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Back to back national semi-final appearances, two consecutive conference tournament titles and now in the final year of the NAIA D-II, the College of Idaho is looking to go out with a bang.

We take you to Caldwell, where a team that played in the national championship came to town over the weekend.

The Oregon Institute of Technology rained on the parade of Yotes Basketball in 2019.

"They beat us in the final four last year; they have one of the best players in the country in Mitchell Fink," explained assistant coach Shelby Lindley

Both teams have targets on their backs in 2020. OIT is ranked fifth in the nation while the C of I sits at No. 3.

The first ever top five match-up in the history of the activities center took place Saturday night.

Rocky Mountain graduate and Snow College transfer Nate Bruneel, giving C of I a quick 6-0 lead.

Bruneel said, "it was nice to hit some shots, I've been in the gym every day, trying to get my rhythm back."

He would make four of five from three point range with a game-high 25 points.

Head coach Colby Blaine added, "we were super happy to get him three years ago, we worked really hard to get him and he wanted to come home and play in front of his family."

The Yotes held a five point advantage at halftime.

In the second half, C of I's defense picked apart the Owls' schemes. A major reason why, Talon Pinckney, he had an unprecedented seven steals.

"Every night we're going to be the best defensive basketball team in the country and we're going to rebound the ball every stinking night," Lindley added.

The Yotes ended up winning 70-59, moving to 13-0 in conference play, 20-3 overall. Pinckney, Ivory Miles-Williams and Ricardo Time also scored 11 points.

"We always tell our guys that diamonds are made under pressure," Blaine said.

Bruneel explained, "they're a good team, you know they're a little beat up, but you're going to get the best from them every time."

The men hit the road this weekend, before returning home February 14 to face Evergreen.

And if you've never seen a game in person...

"We have three Idaho seniors leading the way, you have to come, it's electrifying, come to Caldwell, you won't be disappointed."

Next year the NAIA will combine divisions and participating schools will compete in a 64-team national tournament.

Oregon Tech 31 28 59 16-5, 6-5 CCC
College of Idaho 36 34 70 20-3, 13-0 CCC

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