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5A boys basketball tournament: Corner Canyon's defense leads the way past Box Elder, 79-54

SALT LAKE CITY — Corner Canyon has experienced its share of ups and downs this season but seems to be hitting an upward swing at exactly the right time.

The Chargers won comfortably over Box Elder 79-54 in the quarterfinal round of the 5A playoffs on Wednesday, two days after knocking off Highland by 12 points in the first round.

Hayden Welling led things for the Chargers on Wednesday, scoring a team-high 19 points while blocking three shots and dishing out four assists. He was complimented by Luke Warnock, and his 14 points, along with Gabe Toombs, who chipped in 10 and three steals.

"If we defend, we're pretty doggone good. If we don't defend, then we're pretty average," said Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt. "I thought our kids defended tonight."

A lot of the defensive effort became apparent throughout the second quarter.

After giving up four straight points at the start, the Chargers locked down to hold the Bees scoreless for about a six-minute stretch. Meanwhile, Corner Canyon scored 11 straight, before giving up a single free throw, and ended the half with a 6-0 run, pushing its lead to 27-14 at the break.

"We're capable of being a real good defensive team, and we challenged the kids with some things," Lunt said. "Everyone of them stepped up and did a great job defensively. I give the credit to them."

The defensive effort was led by Josh Christensen and John Mitchell, who both drew the tough assignment of shutting down Box Elder big man Tyson Madson. They did effectively for the game, but particularly in the first half, in which Madson finished without a field goal and only three made free throws.

The defensive effort continued into the second half, with Box Elder unable to cut the lead to less than 11 points, with Corner Canyon finishing the third quarter with a 48-30 lead.

Madson finished with 12 points, while Max Watson scored a game-high 25 for the Bees.

"He's a great player, but I guess we dialed things up right today and did a good job on him," Lunt said of the collective effort on defending Madson.

As mentioned, the Chargers have seen some struggles this year and closed out the regular season winning just two of their final seven games. But what matters is the postseason, with Lunt grateful for whatever struggles endured during the season.

"It's all a process. It's all a journey," Lunt said. "I wouldn't change anything to get to where we are, because we learn from the experiences, and you just got to keep playing."

With the win Corner Canyon advances to the semifinal round where it will take on the winner of East versus Timpanogos on Friday.


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney