SPANISH FORK — Provo went into Friday's game against Spanish Fork expecting an intense battle and the Dons certainly delivered on those expectations, battling the Bulldogs tooth and nail before Provo prevailed 64-58 in a key Region 8 matchup.
Provo used a late second-quarter run, lockdown defense in the third, and clutch foul shooting down the stretch to pull even with Spanish Fork for second place in the Region 8 standings.
"Our region is so tough and that game is just what you get every time in Region 8," said Provo coach Craig Drury. "Spanish Fork gave us a great battle and they're a great team, but we were fortunate to do enough good things late to get this win. It was a big one for us."
The Dons jumped out to an early lead, but a 14-5 run by the Bulldogs to close out the second quarter gave them a 32-30 lead at the break.
Provo then improved upon that lead in the third quarter, ending up with a 42-37 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Drury was quick to credit his post defenders for Spanish Fork's low total in the third.
"Connor O'Neill and Foster Harvey do a great job defensively for us and did again tonight," Drury said. "When you combine their defensive effort with what we got from our guards, we're a good defensive team and you saw that tonight."
The Dons tried to make runs in the fourth, employing a full-court press throughout, but were unable to catch the cool and calm Bulldogs, who converted on 11 of 12 free-throw attempts on the quarter. All 12 attempts came within the game's final two minutes when Spanish Fork was forced to foul on every defensive possession.
"We're a good free-throw shooting team and we're a good shooting team overall," Drury said. "We shot well from 3-point range and what you saw is what I've come to expect from this team."
"Those guys are two of my winners. That's what I call them," Drury said. "When games need to be won, when it's winning time, that's when they come through and not just them. I got guys like (Collin) Bosco, Cy (Wright), and everyone else — guys who know how to win."
Spanish Fork was led on the night by Hunter Schofield and Tyler Anderson, who had 28 and 17 points, respectively.
With the win Provo improves to 6-3 in Region 8 and will next travel to take on Timpview next Tuesday.
Next up for the Dons, who fell to 6-3 in Region 8 play with the loss, is Timpview as well next Friday.