OGDEN — After Region 1 foes Layton and Viewmont knocked off higher seeds to advance to the 5A semifinals earlier on Wednesday, there was no way Region 1 champion Davis wasn’t going to follow suit.
After a bit of a slow start, Davis ripped off 14 straight points late in the second quarter, a decisive stretch that spurred it to a 74-63 victory over Pleasant Grove in the 5A quarterfinals at the Dee Events Center.
During the 14-0 run, the Darts converted six baskets at the rim, several of which came off of forced turnovers at the other end of the court.
“That’s kind of who we are, we’ve kind of hung our hat on defensively,” said Davis coach Chad Sims. “We’ve talked about since day one about getting stops when we need to, and the kids have really bought into it. It’s a credit to them.”
With the victory Davis advances to Friday’s 5A semifinals at 2:30 p.m. and will face Brighton — the only non-Region 1 team remaining.
Jesse Wade led Davis with 23 points, a dozen coming from the free-throw line as Pleasant Grove tried to extend its season over the final two minutes.
The offensive hero though was Caleb Leonhardt. With Pleasant Grove doing an excellent job defensively on Wade throughout the game, the senior forward stepped up and scored 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, including 14 points in the first half.
“Caleb’s a great player. We said before the year he’d be a big part of our success, and he’s stepped up all year. He’s done a great job for us,” said Sims.
Leonhardt’s offensive production was huge early as Pleasant Grove came out very strong. It controlled the offensive glass early, converting eight second-chance points to take an 18-14 lead after the first quarter.
Trailing 27-22 midway through the second quarter, defensive tenacity helped Davis take over.
It started with Wade’s first basket of the game at the 3:32 mark, and continued the rest of the quarter with Leonhardt adding six points and Landon Swartz four more as Davis opened up a 36-29 halftime lead.
“They do a great job running sets. They do a great job attacking the basket, and we just tried to keep them out of the paint as best we could,” said Sims. “They still got there quite a bit, but I thought our guys did a great job after we got used to their quickness and what they were doing offensively.”
Davis quickly stretched its lead to 11 points to start the third quarter, but Pleasant Grove fought back, cutting the deficit to 42-38 with a 9-2 run. That was as close as the Vikings would get.
The Darts ended the quarter on an 8-1 run behind two Leonhardt 3-pointers to take a 50-39 lead.
Riley Court finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Pleasant Grove.
James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.