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High School Boys Basketball: Hawks survive another nail-biter in Region 4

SANDY — Alta won another close game Tuesday night, which epitomizes the Hawks' entire league schedule.

In a game that featured 12 lead changes and seven ties, Alta held on for the thrilling 59-58 victory over Jordan as Kevin Goldsmith's off-balanced shot in the paint bounced harmlessly off the rim as time expired.

The win was Alta's fourth one-point victory in region, including three in its past five games. Its average margin of victory in nine Region 4 wins this year is just 4.7 ppg.

"We're confident that we're going to execute down the stretch. We don't always execute during the game, but something clicks at the end of the game," said Alta coach Jim Barker.

Now the Hawks can set their sights on the region championship.

With a win over visiting Brighton this Friday, Alta can improve to 10-2 in Region 4 and claim the outright title in a league many believe is the toughest in the history of Class 5A.

Conversely, the Bengals can clinch at least a share of the title and the No. 1 seed at state with a victory.

"We hoped we would get to this point, but every game has been so close you never feel comfortable. We still don't feel comfortable, we still need a win against Brighton to win the region," said Barker. "In Region 4, to have a chance to win the region title this year, I'm proud of that."

Alta put itself in the advantageous position with a very poised effort on Jordan's home floor. It couldn't breath until the final whistle though.

After a pair of Kyle Davis free throws extended Alta's lead to 59-55 with 1:35 remaining, Jordan sharp-shooter Joe Mero responded by drilling a 3-pointer and was fouled in the process. He missed the free throw, however, and the Diggers opted to let a minute run off the clock before eventually sending Alta to the foul line down 59-58.

Less than two minutes after making two free throws, Davis missed the front end of the one-and-one with 16 seconds remaining.

On a night when the Hawks forward scored 26 points, it was his only blemish.

"We had a talk with Kyle, and said we need an unselfish offensive Kyle. Sometimes he gets it and he's go, go, go. This game I thought he really composed himself. Kicked it out when he didn't have it, went to the basket when it was a good one-on-one situation and finished," said Barker.

Despite the missed opportunity to extend the lead, the Hawks still had two fouls to give and utilized them to shorten the game to five seconds.

Jordan successfully got the ball in the hands of its leading scorer in the final seconds, but Goldsmith was defended well in the paint and couldn't get off a quality shot.

Goldsmith finished with 14 points to lead Jordan, which has now lost three of its last four.

Jordan Brown added 17 points for the Hawks who, despite the late missed free throw, still made 12 of 15 from the charity stripe. Jordan, meanwhile, only made 8-of-15 free throws.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com