SALT LAKE CITY –
No boys basketball team in Utah had ever won four consecutive state titles. Lone Peak (Highland, Utah)
overwhelmed Pleasant Grove
from the perimeter to rewrite history.
The Knights beat the Vikings 84-66 in the Class 5A championship game on Saturday afternoon at the University of Utah for their fourth consecutive boy's basketball state crown.
The defending MaxPreps National Champions are the first Utah high school team to achieve such a feat.
"We made history, man," senior guard T.J. Haws
said. "We've been chasing history all year. This feels so good."
Hot outside shooting made all the difference for the Knights (23-3). They finished shooting 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from distance.
Haws led the way – connecting on 8-of-14 3-pointers and finishing with 29 points overall to lead Lone Peak. Zach Frampton
added 24 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Knights, who avenged their only loss to an in-state team this season. Matt Conway
had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Pleasant Grove (23-4) and Mark Sheffield chipped in 13 points and nine boards for the Vikings.
Conway did not produce bigger numbers because the Knights made containing passes inside to him their defensive focus from start to finish.
"We felt like their guards were so good getting Conway layups around the basket that we said, 'No help from our 5 man,'" Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. "Our guards have to play defense and we're just going to stay with Conway because he's so good at finishing in those situations."
Pleasant Grove gave Lone Peak a push in the first quarter before fading in the second. The Knights staked out a 13-5 lead behind hot shooting from Haws. They weathered a rally from the Vikings when Conway scored a layup to cap a 8-1 spurt and bring Pleasant Grove within a point at 14-13.
Haws answered with a 3-pointer to close out the quarter and another one to open the second. It fueled a 10-2 run that put Lone Peak up 24-15.
The Vikings chipped away at the lead, making it 26-20 on a layup from Sheffield. Lone Peak slammed the door on a further rally. Frank Jackson
made an acrobatic jumper to stop the run and then Frampton stole the ball and took it in for a layup to make it 30-20 with 4:46 left before halftime.
It marked one installment in a total second quarter takeover for Frampton. He made life miserable on Pleasant Grove's defense – scoring Lone Peak's final 12 points of the half. Included in that outburst were 3-pointers Frampton drained on each of Lone Peak's final two possessions to give the Knights a 47-29 halftime lead.
He ended up scoring 18 points in the second quarter alone – two more than Pleasant Grove combined – and had 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting by halftime.
"He had the eye of the Tiger," Lewis said. "They left him and he made them pay."
Lone Peak did not let off the gas pedal in the third quarter. The Knights drained six more 3-pointers in the quarter – with four coming from Haws alone. His fourth shot from distance – gave Lone Peak a 72-45 lead with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Bountiful 44, Orem 43 Sam Merrill
put on a one-man show in the Class 4A championship game. The senior guard made one big basket after another down the stretch for Bountiful.
It helped the Braves escape a determined underdog in the final seconds and claim a state title. Merrill scored 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting and hit the go-ahead basket with 38.4 seconds left to give Bountiful a 45-44 win in the Class 4A championship game over Orem on Saturday afternoon at the University of Utah.
"He's just a kid that carries you," Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell said. "When the chips are down, he'll find a way. He'll take it on himself and blame himself if it goes wrong. But most of the time it goes right. That's what you love about him." Dalton Nixon
had 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting to lead the Tigers (18-9). But the senior forward missed a pair of free throws that could have won the game with 2.0 seconds remaining.
Orem put itself in position to steal a victory with a pair of baskets from Quinn Peters
in the final minute. He scored on a putback layup to cut Bountiful's lead to one with exactly a minute left. Then Peters stole the ball from Jordan Bleak in the back court and made a go-ahead layup to put the Tigers up 43-42 with 51.4 seconds left.
Merrill answered with his basket on the other end and then Bleak stole the ball from Peters with 12.4 seconds left to seemingly seal the victory. Bountiful was called for a five second violation, however, and Nixon was fouled with two seconds left.
Nixon's missed free throws allowed Bountiful (26-1) to claim its first state title since 1997.
"It feels good," Merrill said. "It's a relief."
Orem took control in the first quarter with a 12-2 run – punctuated by Ethan Chatterly taking a steal in for an uncontested layup – to seize a 12-5 lead.
Bountiful got back on track defensively in the second quarter. The Braves switched to a zone defense and limited Orem to just two field goals. They held the Tigers without a field goal for nearly seven minutes.
"We have three things we base on how we play - defense, rebounding and run," Merrill said. "That's the first thing we got to do is get out and go and get those points. Our defense really helped us out."
It helped the Braves rally and retake the lead. Merrill drained a 3-pointer and then Zac Seljaas scored a layup on the next possession to spark a 14-1 run.
Bountiful finally took a 19-17 lead on another 3-pointer from Jordan Bleak. Seljaas made a basket with 1:46 left in the half to cap the run and give the Braves a 23-17 lead.
Orem cut it to a single point near the end of the third. Merrill boosted Bountiful's lead back to four, at 34-30, when he beat the buzzer with a deep 3-pointer. The Tigers immediately answered with Cooper Holt burying a 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the fourth to cut it back to one at 34-33.
It remained a one-possession game the rest of the way. John Coon covers Utah high school sports for MaxPreps. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @johncoonsports