SALT LAKE CITY — Wins don’t have to come pretty at this point of the year. They just have to come to advance and keep the season going.
For American Fork coach Corey Clayton, the Cavemen's 45-36 win over Davis in the 5A state quarterfinals left a lot to be desired, but he’ll take it.
“I’d rather win ugly than lose and play really well at this point of the season,” Clayton said. “So we’ll work on some things tomorrow, but at this point there’s not a whole lot you can do with two days left in the tournament.”
It wasn’t all ugly for the Cavemen. The first half saw them employ what Clayton defines as a “pressure-and-push” style close to perfection. The result was a commanding 29-13 lead entering halftime.
“I thought in the first half we had contributions from a lot of girls,” Clayton said. “We were playing together, we were playing as a team, and playing the style we want to play for that first 16 minutes.”
The second half was a different story.
The Cavemen only managed five points in the third quarter as the Darts chipped away at the deficit to trail just 34-25 entering the final period — well within striking distance.
“We (played our style) in the second half, we just didn’t make easy shots,” Clayton said. “We started feeling sorry for ourselves on the other end, which made us not play defense like we’re supposed to.”
American Fork earned back some breathing room at the start of the fourth quarter with consecutive baskets made by Maile Richardson and Taylor Moeki before Davis responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 38-32 with 2:34 remaining.
From there, the Cavemen composed themselves just enough to hit some key free throws and win the game.
Jenna Shepherd and Paige Farnsworth each finished with nine points for American Fork, while Richardson added eight points and nine rebounds. Davis was led by Meaghan David and her game-high 11 points.
With the win American Fork advances to the 5A state semifinals, where it will take on the winner of Lone Peak-Fremont Friday at Salt Lake Community College.