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Good foul shooting helps Orem hold off Lehi

SHARE Good foul shooting helps Orem hold off Lehi

OREM — Orem senior Mike Hall had 20 points and junior Daniel Hockersmith 26 points in the Tigers' 73-62 victory over Lehi in boy's basketball action Friday night.

Hockersmith went 16-18 from the free-throw line for the night, including hitting 9-10 in the final few minutes to ice the victory for the Tigers.

"All of our foul-shooting practice paid off there in the end," Orem coach Mike Conner said. "It got frantic at the end, but we took care of things. It was nice."

Orem led by five to 10 points for most of the game, and while they could never put the Pioneers away, they never let them get any closer than three points, either. Orem's seniors, Hall, Timo Valimaki and Koa Kauwe, playing in their final home game, all made clutch plays throughout the night on offense and defense.

"Those three kids play so hard, they deserved this," Conner said. "I told our other guys to give their maximum effort for those three kids."

The two teams exchanged baskets for the first few minutes of the first period, but Orem began to put some distance between itself and Lehi as time winded down. Hall had seven points in the period, and Valimaki had five, including a momentum-shifting three-pointer. Orem led 20-15 going into the second.

The Pioneers had a hard time getting any offensive rhythm, and the Tigers extended their lead to 10 points just minutes into the second period. In what proved to be a trend on the night, Lehi went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to four, but Orem responded with key baskets to keep the lead around seven or eight points.

Both teams shot the ball well from the perimeter and had a harder time getting points in the post. Hall played solid interior defense for the Tigers to go with his good night offensively. At halftime, the Tigers held a 39-32 advantage.

Lehi began to attack the basket more in the third and fourth period, led by forward Derek Sargent, who was able to generate some points by slashing to the hoop. Lehi went on another run, this time 5-0, to cut the lead to three, but again Hockersmith, Hall and sophomore Jordan Egbert put in shots for the Tigers to push their lead back up.

Trailing by seven points going into the fourth, the Pioneers needed every point they could get to pull even with the Tigers. However, while Orem left a window open, scoring only nine points in the first six minutes of the period, Lehi just couldn't put together a consistent run.

"I told them we're ahead, let's make them play defense," Conner said. "We knew they were going to make some shots, and we wanted to push the lead higher, but that's the way our league is. Everyone is so doggone good, you're never comfortable till the final horn blows."

Todd Lynsky hit three three-pointers in the final 1:15, but Hockersmith was cold-blooded from the free-throw line. When center Tyler Jensen drew a technical foul with 12.4 seconds left, what little hope Lehi had was buried by two more Hockersmith free throws.

With the win Orem improved to 5-3 in Region 7 play and guaranteed itself a spot in the state tournament. Lehi fell to 3-5 in region play with the loss.