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High school basketball: Maple Mountain blows past Mountain Crest 66-55

OGDEN — Late in the fourth quarter, Maple Mountain’s Kade Poulson approached the foul line for the second of two attempts. The senior’s release was again smooth, but the ball didn’t cooperate, bounced around just about every part of the rim, teetered for a bit, and then fell out.

“I wasn’t too mad, but yeah, it should have gone in. But it’s all right,” Poulson said of his final free-throw attempt in Maple Mountain’s first-round 4A playoff game against Mountain Crest Tuesday.

The reason why the miss was all right was perhaps due to Poulson having converted all 19 of his attempts prior, but more so due to the Golden Eagles having the game all but wrapped up at the time of the miss.

Indeed, Maple Mountain's overall team execution was just about as flawless as Poulson's 19-20 foul-shooting, helping it to a 66-55 win over the Mustangs.

Maple Mountain set the tone early, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead before extending that lead every quarter until the final period when Mountain Crest made a bit of a late run. It was the type of performance one would expect from a well-seasoned tournament team, the type of team the Golden Eagle coaches and players believe they will become, despite the fact that Tuesday's win was the first postseason win for the basketball program in school history.

“We’re a good team. We got some kids who really know how to play the game and I think that showed today,” said Maple Mountain coach Johnny Averett. “We have a quiet confidence that we can do it and the kids believe. And first and foremost, that’s what you need to have, the belief.”

The belief stems from a solid regular season that saw the Golden Eagles pull down the Region 8 championship. They did it through great team basketball and by playing well to their strengths, which is an experienced and skilled guard line.

Leading that guard line is Jaren Hall from the point and Jake Dixon, along with Poulson, on the wings. Their play allows Maple Mountain to employ a fast tempo that most teams have a hard time keeping up with.

"We're a small team, but our strength is our quickness and our speed," Averett said. "We take any opportunity we can to get out and run."

The beneficiaries of most of Maple Mountain's runs Tuesday were Poulson, who scored a team-high 28 points, and Dixon, who added 14.

Mountain Crest was led by Jackson Brenchley, who scored a game-high 30 points but was relatively kept in check in critical aspects, according to Averett.

“We forced him into a lot of tough shots and it took away a lot of his penetration where he likes to get into the paint and deliver, he wasn’t able to do that as much, but he’s a great player.”

Next up for Maple Mountain is a quarterfinal game against Olympus on Thursday. It's a game the players and coaches look forward to in order to reach their goal of a deep tournament run and even a 4A state championship.

“I feel like we can go all the way,” Poulson said. “We’re a family and we stick together, so I think we can go all the way for sure.”

“I know the players want to move on,” Averett added. “There’s a focus I really like seeing from them right now, and I hope that continues.”


Twitter: @BrandonCGurney