OREM — Even with a 19-3 record, a No. 1 seed and a favored role at the 6A boys state basketball tournament, Lone Peak coach David Evans was not thrilled about his team’s opening-round seed.
The Knights drew Herriman, and Evans figured his offensive-minded squad wouldn’t find it easy.
So Lone Peak relied on its defense, forcing 21 turnovers, and rolled to a 58-34 win Tuesday afternoon at Utah Valley University’s UCCU Center.
“We don’t match up well with them,” Evans said. “We’ve played them before, and it’s always a tough game. We used to be in the same region and they even beat us at our place a couple of years ago.”
For a while, it looked like history might repeat, but Jackson Brinkeroff, Chantry Ross and Steven Ashworth finally got the offense going with 13 points apiece and Max Brenchley added 11 as the Knights advanced to play Davis Thursday in a quarterfinal game at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center.
“They deserved it. They’re a tough team,” said Herriman coach Brad Tingey, whose team finished with a 9-13 record after a fourth-place finish in Region 3. “We match up well and the kids always get up to play them. Defensively we do a good job, but the story of our season is that we will have a dry spell and then find ourselves 11 points behind.”
In this case, it was a 10-0 run by the Knights.
With the game tied 15-15, Lone Peak rebounded a missed Herriman free throw and Ross got open downcourt for an easy layup. A few seconds later, Brinkerhoff missed a pair of free throws, but Lone Peak got the rebound and Ross again shook his man and scored again. Steven Ashworth nailed a basket and was fouled on the Knights’ next possession, and Max Brenchley drilled a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
In the last 2:18 of the half, the damage was done and the Knights took that momentum into the locker room. Herriman didn’t get closer than seven points after that.
“That wasn’t your typical Lone Peak game,” Evans said. “Usually, we get a shot to get ourselves going, but this time our defense spurred our offense.”
In December, Lone Peak defeated the Mustangs 79-55 but trailed by two points at halftime.
Evans didn’t want a repeat performance, so the Knights relied on their quick hands to keep Herriman frustrated and prevent a rally. Evans kept his starters in the game until the Knights had a 20-point lead with two minutes remaining. Herriman shot only 30 percent from the field, including 2 of 12 from 3-point range, so there was little risk of a first-round upset once Lone Peak got going.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high school sports articles for the Deseret News.