The likelihood that Bingham would shoot 75% again and beat rival Copper Hills by 23 points in Tuesday’s region rematch was very doubtful.
And while winning with swagger is certainly fun — something Bingham has done a lot of this year — it proved that it can win the tight ones as well showing the grit necessary to grind out a nail-biter on the road.
In a tight game throughout, especially in the second half with four ties and nine lead changes, Bingham was sharp defensively late as it edged Copper Hills 61-59 to clinch the outright Region 3 championship with one game remaining.
“We’ve won it now three years in a row and that’s a huge feat for not only the program but especially those seniors who’ve been putting in a lot of time the last three years,” said Bingham coach Kyle Straatman, whose team improved to 20-2 overall with the win.
Bingham obviously came nowhere close to shooting 75% again, but it still had a strong night and shot 51% from the field.
Devin Carlson finished with a game-high 18 points to lead Bingham, with Ace Reiser adding 17 points.
“That was a fun one to just tough out a win right there, just grind it out and play a good close game and see who steps up, and we had a few guys step up, mainly on defensive plays,” said Straatman.
Carlson had a huge steal and dunk that pushed Bingham’s lead to three points with 1:29 remaining, and then Kam Dupaix grabbed a big steal of his own out at midcourt with 18 seconds left. He buried both free throws, which extended the lead to three again with 15.6 seconds remaining.
Copper Hills had a chance to tie the game on a 3-pointer attempt with under 10 seconds remaining, but despite creating a good look the shot bounced off the rim. Dupaix secured the defensive rebound and was immediately fouled. He extended the lead to four at the foul line with 5.1 seconds remaining which rendered Copper Hills last-second lay-up meaningless.
Straatman thought his team had some timely rebounds throughout the game, which he said should always be one of his team’s strengths.
“I stress big time to my guys and they’ve bought in for the last three years these seniors, how hard we work in the weight room. We lift three days a week. I think that showed just a little bit down the stretch with a couple of those rebounds,” said Straatman.
Copper Hills had a couple of clutch offensive rebounds and second-chance points midway through the fourth quarter, which gave the Grizzlies a slight 52-49 lead. Carlson responded with a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 52-52 at the 4:25 mark of the quarter.
Copper Hills went back ahead 55-54 on a three-point play at the 2:14 mark from Luke Moir, who led all scorers with 19 points.
Reiser quickly responded with a jumper at the other end, and Bingham never trailed again despite Copper Hills having a couple of possessions to try and tie it or take the lead in the final 90 seconds.