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High school boys basketball: Gritty Salem Hills knocks off Sky View in 4A semifinals

OREM — The Salem Hills SkyHawks' crowd had plenty to cheer about Friday.

Earlier in the day, the SkyHawk girls beat Logan, 60-40 to advance to the finals of the 4A girls tournament. Friday evening, the SkyHawk boys erased a four-point halftime deficit and slipped past Sky View, 70-60, to reach the finals of the 4A boys state tournament.

James Nelson led the way with 33 points and seven rebounds and finished the night 10 for 10 from the free-throw line.

“It feels good, I’ve been thinking about this for five years,” Nelson said. “It’s so awesome I can’t even describe the words.”

After trailing by four at the half, Salem Hills got their offense revved up by the fourth quarter and started playing better defense on Sky View sophomore, Mason Falslev, who still finished with 25.

“We write one thing up on the board before every game and that is fight,” Salem Hills coach, Jimmy Degraffenried said. “We went in at halftime and we felt like if we would just do that (fight) the rest of the game we’d win.”

Tied at 36-36 late in the fourth quarter, DeGraffenried put 6-foot-7 post Cole Griffin on Falslev. DeGraffenried said that was the turning point of Friday’s ballgame.

“Cole is long and is a tough guy and his defense was the turning point of the game,” he said. “Once we got the lead we were able to play more our style of game.”

Sky View jumped out to a 16-11 lead after a quarter with the sophomore, Falslev showing some broad variety to his game. Trailing, 6-5 Falslev attacked the rim for his first score of the game. Twice during the first period, Falslev was fouled attacking the rim, twice he made both sets of free-throws.

The Salem Hills offense showed off their jump-shooting ability with Ty Bailey knocking down a 3-pointer, and Carson Peterson scoring with a driving layup to tie the contest at 18-18. David Jones’ pull-up 16-footer gave the SkyHawks a lead at 20-18. Just as Salem Hills seemed to gather the momentum, Sky View took control with a 9-2 run fueled by baskets from Braden Radford, an alert steal and finish from Carson Peterson and finally a 3-pointer from Peterson that stretched the lead to 27-22.

Salem Hills cut it to 30-29 after James Nelson scored five consecutive points. Falslev though, answered with a 3-pointer that just beat the buzzer for his 15th points of the half as the Bobcats led it 33-29 at intermission.

Nelson took his turn guarding Falslev, but spent a good share of the night attacking the rim, shooting free-throws and knocking down three, 3-pointers.

“My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball,” Nelson said. “They got me the ball in good places so I just attacked them and worked off my teammates.”

David Jones finished with 17 points for Salem Hills. Griffin finished with seven points and two rebounds and a thunderous one-hand dunk with 1:42 remaining that brought every Salem Hills fan in the building to their feet.

Sky View received 11 points from Payton Lee and nine apiece from Koebe Wilson and Cole Smith.

Salem Hills advances to the 4A finals where they will face either Juan Diego or Orem for a state championship at Utah Valley University on Saturday.