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4A high school basketball: Highland holds on, knocks off Pioneers

Highland's Sam Orchard drives to the basket against Lehi's Jordan McGregor in the Rams' victory Thursday.
Highland's Sam Orchard drives to the basket against Lehi's Jordan McGregor in the Rams' victory Thursday.
Mike Terry, Deseret News

OGDEN — Highland High guard Sam Orchard sat on the bench for much of the third quarter in the Rams' 4A quarterfinal matchup against Lehi on Thursday night. He watched his Rams struggle to handle the ball, and nearly give up a seven-point lead against the favored Pioneers.

He didn't like it.

"It just builds up in you when you're on the bench," Orchard said. "You just want to go out and play your best."

And save the day? Sure, why not.

Orchard scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to lead Highland to a 52-41 upset win over Lehi. The Rams, who took third place in Region 6 and were 11-10 overall in the regular season, play Timpview in the semifinals tonight.

Highland's upset victory was slipping through its fingers during a third quarter in which star players Orchard and Nate Fakahafua were on the bench because of foul trouble. Lehi got within 28-27 when Dustin Draeger hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the period.

Orchard got the momentum back in Highland's favor. He scored on a layup and converted a three-point play to put the Rams up 33-29. Orchard then dished an assist to Steven Divver, who sank a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Rams some breathing room at 36-31.

"When Divver hit that 3 in the corner off the drive, I think that kind of won the game for us," said Highland coach Keith West. "It changed everything."

Divver's basket forced the Pioneers to press, rush shots and foul. Highland didn't let Lehi get any closer, and even stretched its lead to 15 during a one-sided fourth quarter.

It was the second straight tournament game in which Highland dominated the final period. The Rams did the same at Salem Hills in a 59-53 victory on Tuesday.

Highland figured to have its hands full against Lehi, a team that entered Thursday's game with a 19-3 record and an 11-game winning streak. The Pioneers are a tough team to handle with bigs William Walker and Josh Scott, but Fakahafua helped keep Walker in check and that took the Pioneers out of rhythm.

Highland held Lehi to 31.8 percent shooting from the field and its lowest scoring output of the season.

"We did a great job defensively," West said.

Fakahafua finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He emphatically blocked a shot during a 16-2 Rams run in the fourth quarter that took some life out of the Pioneers.

"Nate is just a presence offensively and defensively," Orchard said. "He's a beast, really."

The Rams have won four straight games — their longest winning streak of the season — dating back to their regular-season finale against Woods Cross. They seem to be peaking at the right time, but West isn't yet convinced.

"We did not play our best game," he said. "We played good, but we can play better. It's going to take better to win this thing. Hopefully we've got some legs left."

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com