HOLLADAY — When Jordan’s Cameron Blunck got a shot at redemption on Wednesday afternoon, he delivered in a big way for the ’Diggers.
The senior drained an angle-right 3-pointer as time expired to lead Jordan to a 68-65 victory over Timpanogos at the Utah Autism Holiday Classic at Olympus High School. Blunck’s 3-pointer was his sixth of the game as he finished with a game-high 23 points.
“He got a wide-open look,” said Jordan coach Trace Bevell.
Ironically enough, it was Blunck’s missed free throw shortly before his game-winner that gave Timpanogos a needed lifeline. With Jordan leading 65-63 with 40 seconds left in the opening game of the three-day tournament, Blunck stepped to the free-throw line to try to make it a two-possession game, but Jordan’s best free-throw shooter missed the front end of the one-and-one.
The T-Wolves took advantage and tied the game at 65-65 on a rebound put-back by Jacob Maddox with 21 seconds remaining.
Bevell decided not to call a timeout after the T-Wolves tied the game, not wanting to let them get their defense set.
The moved seemed to pay off because there was some defensive confusion on the perimeter in those final seconds, which allowed Blunck to get a wide-open look at the buzzer. The 23 points and six 3-pointers were both career highs for Blunck.
Jordan improved to 7-1 this preseason with the victory, and a big reason for Wednesday’s victory was how the team handled Timpanogos’ unrelenting full- and half-court press.
“I’ve seen them a few times on tape, they’re going to gamble, they’re going to come at you with two or three guys and trap you. My fear was handling the pressure, and I thought we did a good job handling the pressure with our ball handlers, and then finding extra guys to make shots,” said Bevell.
The ’Diggers struggled a bit with the press in the first half with 10 turnovers, but they only had three in the second half.
The game featured 14 lead changes, the last coming midway through the fourth quarter as Jordan started to pull away. Leading 56-55, Josh Christensen drained a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 59-55, and then after the ’Diggers took a couple of defensive steps, they stretched the lead to 61-55 on a jumper by Crew Wakley.
Timpanogos didn’t wilt, though. A 3-pointer by Matt Norman helped keep the score close, and then with it trailing 65-60, Dalten Stewart converted a 3-point play with 46 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 65-63.
The teams combined for 19 3-pointers in the back-and-forth game. Matt Norman led Timpanogos with 19 points and five 3-pointers in the loss.