Former Yakima Valley Community College coach Leon Rice and his Boise State Broncos saw their season end Wednesday night with an 81-70 loss to La Salle in the NCAA basketball tournament at Dayton, Ohio.
BSU (21-11) was involved in a first four contest, meaning its matchup was a play-in game that would make the winner part of the 64-team field. La Salle will meet Kansas State in a first-round West Region game Friday in Kansas City.
Rice joined Dean Nicholson at YVCC for the 1995-96 team and served as Nicholson’s assistant for two years. In 1997-98, Nicholson’s final season of coaching, Rice was co-head coach and was the head man on his own the following season.
Rice was then hired by Mark Few at Gonzaga for the 1999-2000 season after then-Bulldogs coach Dan Monson took the job at Minnesota. Rice assisted at Gonzaga for 11 years before moving to Boise State prior to the 2010-2011 season.
He has become the first basketball coach in school history to post two 20-win seasons in his first three years. BSU’s future is bright — the Broncos had only one senior on their roster and he was not among their top six scorers.
In other Boise State news, former YVCC standout Brandi Henton has been named the Mountain West Conference’s newcomer of the year for the women’s team.
Henton, who was spectacular at YVCC before incurring a season-ending knee injury during the 2011-12 season, averaged 10.4 points last season, second highest on the team, and four rebounds.
The Broncos, with former YVCC head coach Cody Butler serving as an assistant to Gordy Presnell, went 11-18l last season after sustaining two key injuries.
Grandview High School alum Kinzi Poteet, a senior-to-be, hurt her knee last summer and redshirted this past season. She’s scheduled to complete her career next season.