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Students in the Spotlight

Road to Victory: Bonners Ferry High School Badgers Boys Basketball Champions



Bonners Ferry High School Badger Boys

 

By Christian Weaner


As the clock hit zero in the Ford Idaho Center on Saturday, March 2, senior forward Trey Bateman made a beeline for head coach Nathan Williams, grabbing him by the waist and raising him up in the air.


Nathan had believed in him and his teammates, and together they achieved their goal since third grade — winning the first 3A State Basketball Championship in Bonners Ferry history.


“Mr. Williams knew what it was going to take and did everything he could to make it possible for us,” Trey explained, describing the celebratory moment. “I wanted to let him know that this team loves him and appreciates everything that he has done for us over the years.”


Nathan, a former standout player at Whitworth University and varsity head coach in Oregon, moved his family to Bonners Ferry in 2015 when he became the principal of Valley View Elementary School.


Shortly thereafter, with the help of Trey’s father, Cal Bateman, Nathan started an AAU team, taking the boys to tournaments in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane to compete against the best teams in the Inland Northwest. He saw competitiveness and athleticism in his team, and he knew what they could be capable of.


“I have believed that I would be a state champion in basketball ever since third grade,” Trey emphasized. “The first year this group was together, Coach told us that if we stuck together and worked hard, we would be state champions one day.”


Trey’s freshman year was Nathan’s first season as the Badgers varsity head coach. That year, Bonners Ferry earned a state tournament berth for the first time since 2008, going 0-2.


The next season, the Badgers claimed their first district title in 15 years and made it to the consolation finals at state. And last season, Bonners Ferry went 23-2 overall, losing by 5 points to Sugar-Salem in the state championship game.


“The teams that I have played on the last four years were blessed with a competitive nature that fueled us to become the best in the gym, no matter where we played,” Trey described. “We had to deal with the pain of losing to push ourselves in the gym and become the best.”


Trey is one of approximately 12 to 15 boys — some of whom graduated in 2023 — who have been bought in since day one. And on March 2, 2024, whether they were on the court or in the stands, they all achieved history, and victory, together.


The team was greeted home on March 3 with a big outpouring of support from the community, and Nathan said he has been humbled by the number of people who have reached out to congratulate him and the team.


“We live in a great part of the country, and I feel blessed to be a Badger and be able to coach these kids and be supported by their families,” Nathan noted.


For Nathan, Trey and the entire Bonners Ferry team, it was a long and hard road to the top, but together they accomplished that goal they set all those years ago.


“The feeling of winning a state championship was unbelievable,” Trey reflected. “It was amazing to see that all the hours that we had put in the gym finally paid off. It was worth all the blood, sweat and tears.


“And trust me, there were a lot of each of those.”


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