An inch was all that separated Layton Christian and Grantsville in Saturday’s 3A state championship.
Had Grantsville’s 3-pointer at the buzzer flown an inch farther, it would’ve been the Cowboys who stormed the court in celebration after rallying from an 11-point deficit to start the fourth quarter.
Instead, that 3-pointer off a brilliant inbounds play hit front iron, and it was Layton Christian that stormed the floor to celebrate the 48-46 victory at Weber State for a repeat state title and its sixth in school history.
Layton Christian junior point guard Tyrese Lacey said he got the slightest touch on the last-second 3-pointer, but regardless, the second the ball was in the air was heart-pounding.
“It’s an unbelievable mix of emotions ‘cause you’re so nervous. You’re scared, but you think it’s not going in so you’re happy. It’s so many emotions rushing at once,” said Lacey.
Layton Christian led for virtually the entire game, but Grantsville’s 3-point shooting kept it close and ultimately is what gave it a chance. The Cowboys finished 9 of 21 from 3-point range, but it needed one more to claim its first state title since 1998.
“Ultimately in sports, you play to compete, you play to win and what you want is a chance to win,” said Grantsville coach Nate Austin.
“At the end of the day it’s a make-and-miss game, and a few more inches and we’re celebrating a state championship. Ultimately the result didn’t go our way, but so proud of the way we responded.”
Layton Christian beat Grantsville in both region meetings and then again in the state championship, and Lacey — who is from England — said he appreciated how competitive and sporting the games were each time.
“Played them three times, first time good fight, second time a good fight, but this one I would say the best battle we’ve had for a state championship. I give them full respect and props to them, even the way they handled it. They were so respectful,” he said.
Layton Christian led 41-30 heading into the fourth quarter, and with under three minutes left, it still seemed in control up 47-38 after a layup from Sammy Ishimwe.
Grantsville cut it to 47-40 on a Jace Sandberg layup, and then Gabe Mouritsen cut it to 47-43 on a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining.
LCA responded by making 1 of 2 free throws at the 1:17 mark to go back ahead 48-43.
Grantsville worked its offense at the other end for nearly a minute to get a good shot against Layton Christian’s stifling defense, and eventually did as Mouritsen buried his sixth 3-pointer with 17 seconds left making it a 48-46 game.
Grantsville didn’t call a timeout, and by the time it fouled Layton Christian after a delayed inbounds pass, only six seconds were left.
Layton Christian missed the front of that 1-and-1 situation, and Grantsville quickly advanced the ball to midcourt and called a timeout with 3.2 seconds left.
Austin went to the well and drew up a play his team has worked on occasionally this year but has never used. It’s a play he got from Quincy Lewis during his days at BYU, and a play Lewis got from Lee Cummard.
The play called for Sandberg to loft the inbounds pass into the post to Carter Killian, who immediately kicked it out to Mouritsen, who had the hot hand in the second half for Grantsville and finished with 20 points.
Layton Christian coach Bobby Porter has coached the program to all six of its state championships and has now won state titles with Layton Christian in 1A, 2A and 3A.
“They all feel good ‘cause Utah fans are incredible,” said Porter. “They root from the beginning to the end whether they’re winning by 20 or losing 20, so the environment is incredible.”
Lacey and Soulemane Barro each scored 12 points for the Eagles, who shot 53% from the field and were efficient offensively all game.
Grantsville shot 40% from the field, which included nine 3-pointers and eight 2-pointers.
Desret News 3A Boys All-Tournament Team
MVP — Tyrese Lacey, Layton Christian
Souleymane Barro, Layton Christian
Timmie Olubisi, Layton Christian
Gabe Mouritsen, Grantsville
Carter Killian, Grantsville
Malick Diallo, Juan Diego