Lone Peak 83, Bountiful 66
OGDEN — Twelve games ago, Lone Peak coach Ryan Cuff turned his Knights loose. Now they are running at full-speed.
What they were doing three months ago wasn't working.
At one point, they were 5-7 overall and 1-4 in Region 6 play.
Now, after their 83-66 drubbing of Bountiful Friday night in the 4A boys state championship semifinals, the Knights have won 12 straight and are the hottest team in the tournament.
"(We've) been able to run the ball up and down the floor instead of a slow-paced game," senior guard Taylor Risher said after his career-high 24-point performance against the Braves. "(Cuff said) take the ball and go with it, and if it's not there to go into the early O."
With the victory the Knights have beaten the No. 1 Sky View Bobcats and No. 2 Braves, who were a combined
44-1 before they both lost to the Knights.
"They (the Knights) went through a lot early," Cuff said of the Knights' slow start. "I knew the kids felt like they could do it on their own. Now, they've found out for themselves they can't do it without every single one that's on the court."
The Knights (17-7) will face a team with a similar style in tonight's 5:30 p.m. championship game against the Olympus Titans (19-4).
The two teams like to push the ball up the floor, but at the same time, they can play defense.
Neither team has won a state basketball championship.
The Knights led for most of the first and second quarter before Bountiful's Jeff Jensen, who had a game-high 30 points, had a put back and a 3-pointer with 2:37 left in the second quarter to give the Braves a 24-22 lead.
Sam Burgess, who had 23 points, and Bountiful's Ben Murdock traded 3-pointers, before Risher jump-started the Knights with three consecutive 3-pointers as they led 34-29 at the half.
"The kid is a competitor. He's a gym rat," Cuff said of Risher. "He loves the game and I'm happy for him because of his attitude. All day today he had a game face on and was ready to play basketball."
After the Braves scored the first point of the half, Matt Wilder had two buckets and Burgess had another and the lead was 10.
The Braves pulled within four three times in the third quarter and within three one time after a Matt Blood 3-ball, but each time the Knights would answer.
"It seems like we were there and, bam, it was 10 again," said Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell. "Give them credit, those guys hit their shots. If you shoot that well you deserve to win."
The Knights shot a blistering 63 percent from the field, including 11-for-16 in the second half. They also shot 74 percent from the line. In the final five minutes the Knights hit 27-of-34 foul shots. Before that final stretch they hit only one of three charity tosses.
"We were worried a little bit about their (the Braves') pressure, but we knew we could attack," Cuff said. "Yes, we threw the ball away a little bit, but for the most part we got high-percentage shots."