OGDEN — When Bountiful and Timpview played in the Class 4A state tournament in 2007, Braves guard Jordan Maxwell was relegated to the bench because of a broken right ankle.
He watched as the T-birds used the amoeba defense, basically dropping all of their defenders on center Ben Aird and begging Bountiful to shoot them out of it. The Braves couldn't do it and were eliminated.
"It was really frustrating because I'm not scared to shoot," Maxwell said. "My grandpa always said, 'Fake to the man who's clear and shoot.'"
Maxwell employed that strategy on Friday night and helped Bountiful get some revenge.
Maxwell scored 14 points to help the Braves to a 55-49 win over the T-birds in the 4A semifinals at Weber State. Bountiful will play in the state championship game for the first time since 1997 when it faces Provo today at 5 p.m.
The presence of Maxwell, along with his brother Chris, helped force Timpview to play Bountiful straight up this time. That allowed Aird to be guarded one-on-one by sophomore Bronson Kaufusi, and he responded with his third double-double in the state tournament, recording 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"I did not want to go out there and have what happened last year," Aird said. "I'm proud of my teammates. They were great."
After a tight first half, the Braves began to pull away from Timpview in the third quarter. Bountiful opened the period on a 10-3 run, then scored the final six points of the quarter. Maxwell put an exclamation point on the team's big quarter, scooping in a circus layup with just 1.1 seconds remaining in the period. He was also fouled on the shot and converted a three-point play to put the Braves ahead 44-31.
"I missed a few of those early on," Maxwell said. "And then you come down and put one in and it's, 'Hey, there it goes. The basketball gods are good to me today.'"
They weren't so kind to the T-birds. Timpview shot just 23 percent from the field in the second half, and 29 percent in the game. The T-birds never got into a rhythm on offense, and had just seven assists in the entire contest. Players such as Travis Parrish and Sean Carey played a big role in forcing the T-birds to struggle, and Aird blocked five shots.
The Braves were bothered by their loss to Timpview last year, so beating the T-birds was a relief. But Bountiful didn't do much celebrating, as reigning 4A champion Provo still stands in the way of its ultimate goal.
"This feels incredible," Aird said. "There's only one thing that can feel better and that's if we take care of business (today)."
Top performer: Bountiful's Ben Aird had his third double-double in the state tournament with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Key stat: The T-birds lost their range after halftime, shooting just 23 percent from the field in the second half. Next: Championship, Bountiful vs. Provo, 5 p.m.