For much of the season, Alta center Travis Knight hasn't lived up to high expectations folks naturally have of a 6-foot-11 center who is headed to the University of Connecticut of the Big East Conference next year.
That wasn't a problem Thursday night at the Salt Palace.Knight scored 21 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked 6 shots in leading the Hawks to a 57-48 victory over Timpview in the 4A quarterfinals.
The victory moves Alta into Friday night's semifinals against No. 1-ranked Viewmont, which cruised to a 57-37 victory over Skyline earlier in the day.
Alta and Viewmont meet at 8:50 p.m., right after Davis and Provo play in the other semifinal at 7:10 p.m. The semifinal winners play in Saturday night's finals at 8 p.m.
Alta Coach Ron Carling, said his team played its "best game in a long time" Thurdsay night. And he wasn't surprised by Knight's terrific game.
"When he's allowed to play, that's how he plays," said Carling. "It's tough to play when you're on the bench (in foul trouble). When he's has the opportunity, he plays well."
The Hawks broke away from a close game in the first quarter and moved out to a 12-point lead in the second quarter before settling for a 28-20 halftime lead.
Behind Galen Anderson, who led his team with 18 points, the T-Birds fought back in the second half, closing to a 39-34 deficit after three quarters. When Anderson scored an inside shot with 4:45 left, it tied the score at 43-43.
The T-Birds seemed to have all the momentum at this point, but they could never take the lead. After ties at 45 and 47, the Hawks went ahead for good with 2:30 left, when Nick Proud, Alta's other skyscraper (6-foot-10), scored on a follow shot.
Knight then made perhaps his biggest play of the game when he tipped in a missed foul shot by Troy Norris to make it 51-47 with 1:44 left. After that, all the T-Birds could manage was a free throw by Doug Henstrom, while Alta hit four straight free throws, two by Spencer Wagner, two by Brady Edwards and a late layup by Edwards.
"Our little guys made a lot of shots," said Carling. "I was thrilled with our little guys."
One of those "little guys," Edwards, scored 12 points, while Proud added 11.
The T-Birds were hurt by poor shooting as they hit only 30 percent from the field, making 17 of 56.
Viewmont 57, Skyline 37
For a couple of minutes, anyway, the Eagles were in this game. They jumped to a 4-0 lead and kept the Vikings scoreless for nearly four minutes.
But the Eagles couldn't take advantage and scored just one point over the last six minutes of the quarter to fall behind 10-5. By halftime it was 30-18 and the Viewmont lead got as high as 24 points in the final quarter.
"It was a team effort," said Viewmont Coach Clyde Nelson. "That's why we are where we are (22-0).
Sophomore center Alex Jensen led the Vikes with 18 points, while point guard John Robison scored 14 points.
Skyline's big gun, JaRon Boone, could only manage 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Nelson gave his defensive ace, Brandon Larson, much of the credit to holding Boone down. Andy Olds was the only other Eagle player in doulbe figures with 13.
The Vikings did a great job at the foul line, sinking 21 of 23 shots. Skyline Coach Paul Jeppesen praised the Vikes' free throw effort, but wasn't happy with the officiating.
"(Viewmont) seemed to get every break," said Jeppesen. "Everything went their way. We didn't even get into the 1-and-1 until there was two minutes left."
The Eagles play Timpview Friday at 5:30 p.m.
American Fork 66, West Jordan 58 The Cavemen jumped out to an 11-4 first-quarter lead and held on for the victory. Ryan DeMille scored 17 for A.F., while center Howard Gurney scored 16 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. Fernando Diego, a exchange student from Spain, had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Jason Hasting led West Jordan with 22 points.
Hillcrest 67, Clearfield 54 The Huskies broke open a close game, outscoring the Falcons 27-18 in the final quarter. Jason Williams led Hillcrest with 18 points, while Larry Lundberg chipped in 14 and Jason Oliver added 11. Cory Johnson scored 17 to lead the Falcons.
Hillcrest meets American Fork at 3:10 p.m. Friday with the winner playing the winner of the 1:30 p.m. Bingham-Mountain View game in the consolation finals Saturday at 3:45 p.m.