CEDAR CITY—The Meridian Mongoose came close to pulling off an upset in the first round of the 1A tournament on Wednesday, but they couldn't quite finish the job.
Meridian led Rich, Region 16's second-place team, by 10 with 7:04 left in the game but eventually fell 63-61.
"We got tired and they got hot," Meridian coach Travis Madsen said.
Specifically, Colby Holmes and Blake Pugmire got hot. Holmes hit two 3-pointers and Pugmire made a basket that cut Meridian's lead to 51-49 within a span of 1:37. The Rebels eventually took the lead 55-53 when Holmes made another 3-pointer.
Meridian retook the lead twice at 59-58 and at 61-60 thanks to Mack Bakker. Kyle Motta then made a layup to give Rich a 62-61 lead and later made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Rebels a 63-61 lead with six seconds remaining.
Meridian had one last chance to win. After Motta missed his second free throw, the Mongoose had a play designed to go to Bryan Anderson or Jesse Taylor. But with little time and both those players bottled up, the ball went to Bakker instead. And Bakker, who led his team with 25 points, missed what would have been the game-winning 3-pointer.
"I'll have him shoot that any day of the week," Madsen said. "He's as good a shooter as anyone in this tournament."
And Madsen said Rich is as good as any team in the 1A tournament.
"I think they're one of the top two teams in the state," Madsen said. "I think they've been underrated."
Rich coach Ashley Brown wasn't making any boasts after his team's win. He was just happy to escape the Mongoose.
"We knew we were in for a good game because we watched them and they have good kids," Brown said. "We got after it and worked hard and good things happen when you work hard."
With its hopes for a state championship dashed, Meridian can still look back at its season and be proud. The Mongoose lost one of their biggest fans before the season started when center Phillip Erickson's father died. Meridian then lost its first three games and started the season 2-5 before getting it together.
"This team has been through adversity, illness and injury," Madsen said. "They got themselves this far and I couldn't be more proud."
Pugmire led Rich with 25 points and Holmes added 14. James Barrett scored 11 points for Meridian, while Taylor and Anderson each added 10.
In other 1A playoff games:
DUGWAY 63, GREEN RIVER 56: Corey Rose scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half to give the Mustangs a come-from-behind win over the Pirates.
Dugway fell behind 36-29 early in the third quarter but scored nine points in the next 90 seconds to tie the game. Dugway pulled away in the fourth quarter after Green River's big man, Jake Mecham, fouled out of the game.
Five players scored in double figures for Dugway. Dane Schofield scored 13 points, Matt Bate had 12, Nick Wall had 11 and Nathan Nelson added 10.
Gabrin Ekker led the Pirates with 18 points and Bowman Mitchell added 15.
PIUTE 57, DUCHESNE 50: Neils Hendrickson scored 20 points and Rowdy Smith added 12 as the Thunderbirds advanced in the 1A tournament.
Piute outscored Duchesne 18-1 in the second quarter to break the game open after trailing by five at the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles made a late run to make the game interesting. Ben Farnsworth rattled in a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play to close Duchesne's deficit to 53-50. But Josh Kellum sank two free throws and Duchesne couldn't make another basket.
Farnsworth led the Eagles with 13 points.
MANILA 73, WASATCH ACADEMY 59: Jeremy Catron scored 24 points as the Mustangs upset the No. 1 Tigers.
Manila outscored Wasatch Academy 44-28 in the second half to hand the Tigers their first loss since Dec. 7. Wasatch Academy was 18-1 before Wednesday.
Catron scored 14 of his points in the second half and Zach Schofield scored 15. Casey Robinson made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for Manila, which was the No. 4 seed from Region 16.
Mantas Armonas scored 23 points for Wasatch Academy and Everard Bartlett added 18.
TABIONA 54, PANGUITCH 33: Riley Bagley had the performance of the day at the 1A tournament and his teammates were pretty good too.
Bagley scored 27 points as the Tigers cruised past the Bobcats.
The outcome was never in doubt. The Tigers jumped out to a 16-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and coasted the rest of the way. Casey Christensen led Panguitch with 13 points.
MILFORD 58, WATERFORD 55: A new champion will be crowned in 1A basketball. Milford eliminated Waterford, last year's champion, 58-55 in the last game of the first round on Wednesday.
The game turned into a free-throw contest in the final minutes and the Tigers were able to make more. Chance Williams made two foul shots to give Milford the lead at 56-55 and Saxon Vandevanter sealed the win with two free throws with 1.9 seconds left in the game.
Travis Nelson led Milford with 18 points, while Williams had 11 and Vandevanter added 10. Tyson Brazell led the Ravens with 19 points.
MOUNT VERNON 80, BRYCE VALLEY 62: The Mount Vernon Patriots showed why they're the Region 17 champions in their blowout win over the Mustangs.
The Patriots pulled away from Bryce Valley early when Juan Pablo Silveira made three 3-pointers and Mount Vernon closed the first quarter on an 11-1 run. Bryce Valley never posed much of a challenge after the first period.
Mount Vernon showed it can win in a few different ways. Silveira and Trent Savage are deadly from 3-point range. And 6-8 junior Sebastian Gobba was a beast on the inside as he scored 22 points. Silveira scored 15 points, while Savage and Tristan Lawyer each added 14.
Levi LeFevre led Bryce Valley with 17 points.
VALLEY 57, LAYTON CHRISTIAN 47: Josh Sawyer scored 17 points as the Buffaloes advanced in the 1A tournament.
After the Eagles scored the first six points of the game, Valley dominated the rest of the way. Three other players scored in double figures for the Buffaloes as Owen Hoyt and Kenneth Crosby each had 13 points and Kit Goulding added 11.
A four-point play by Layton Christian's Gray McNeeley got the Eagles close in the third quarter at 36-32. But Sawyer then caught fire and made three 3-pointers to put the game away.
Belford Williams led Layton Christian with 13 points and McNeeley added 12.