HIGHLAND — With so many offensive weapons on the floor at any given time, it’s pretty common for Lone Peak to go on big scoring spurts and bury teams. Sometimes they happen in the first half, sometimes the second.
It happened again in Tuesday’s Region 4 showdown against Pleasant Grove as the Knights got hot and scored 29 points. Only this time, the opponent didn’t wilt.
Pleasant Grove absorbed the hot shooting and responded with streaky shooting at the other end, which ultimately allowed Lone Peak to show off late-game composure it hasn’t needed much this season.
Despite a few shaky trips to the free-throw line in the final minute, Lone Peak made just enough plays on both ends of the court in the final minute to hold on for a 76-75 victory to clinch the outright Region 4 title.
“That’s a state championship caliber win right there, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again. It’s huge, we found a way to win even when they were playing some of their best basketball. For us to find a way to win in an environment like that says a lot about our character and our ability to win close games,” said Lone Peak’s Steven Ashworth, who scored 17 points and dished out five assists.
His two free throws with 14 seconds remaining put Lone Peak ahead 76-72, which rendered Pleasant Grove’s 3-pointer at the buzzer meaningless.
Lone Peak made 12 3-pointers, and needed them all, too, as Pleasant Grove shot 73 percent from the field in the second half to never let the lead get out of hand.
With the scored tied at 30 at the half, the Knights scored on 12 of 15 possessions in the third quarter to stretch the lead to 59-51. Ashworth and Taylor Madson both knocked down 3-pointers in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Lone Peak continued its streaky shooting from downtown as Jackson Brinkerhoff drained two 3-pointers, and Ashworth added another.
Brown’s 3-pointer cut Lone Peak’s lead to 67-64 with 2:30 remaining, but Ashworth responded with his own, stretching the lead back to 70-64.
When Pleasant Grove then only made 1 of 2 free throws on two straight trips to the foul line, the Knights were in prime position to close the game out from the foul line. Instead, they missed the front end of 1-and-1s on consecutive possessions.
The Vikings capitalized both times on a 3-point play from Brown and then a layup by Kael Mikkelsen to whittle the lead to 72-71 with 36 seconds remaining.
Out of a timeout, Lone Peak got a huge bucket as Brinkerhoff slipped in behind the defense for a layup for the 74-71 lead. The big man scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, most of the scoring coming in the second half as Lone Peak tried to pull Pleasant Grove 7-footer Matt Van Komen out of the paint.
“If Van Komen is sagging in the key, that’s why we bring him out because he can shoot the three. He was aggressive and he shot the ball really well,” said Lone Peak coach David Evans.
Pleasant Grove elected to attack the basket down three points with under 20 seconds, but despite getting the foul call in the lane it only made 1 of 2 free throws. That allowed Lone Peak to make it a two-possession game when Ashworth made two free throws at the other end.
“We had glimpses of being really good tonight, and then at points we weren’t very good, but overall the guys are really progressing right now,” said Evans.