Corner Canyon never trailed in the first 27 minutes of Tuesday’s 6A quarterfinal, always responding to a Cyprus mini runs with one of its own.
When Cyprus took its first lead of the game at the 4:48 mark of the fourth quarter, No. 4 Corner Canyon responded exactly how coach Dan Lunt expected. It regained the lead less than two minutes later and never relinquished it in a highly entertaining 57-53 victory over No. 5 Cyprus at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center.
“When Cyprus took that lead, it tested the character of our kids. At that point everything was going in their favor and the kids stepped up and responded. That’s what I’m most proud of,” said Lunt, whose team held Cyprus to just 29% shooting in the win.
Brody Kozlowski scored what proved to be the winning bucket on a corner 3-pointer coming out of a timeout with 36 seconds remaining giving the Chargers the 54-51 win. Cyprus’ Quentin Meza — who led all scorers with 26 points — responded by attacking the basket at the other end, getting to the free-throw line with 19 seconds left and trimming the lead to 54-53.
Tyler Burraston extended Corner Canyon’s lead to 56-53 with a pair of free throws and then Cyprus’ game-tying 3-pointer attempt with three seconds left came up short as Jaxson Roberts’ perimeter defense forced a difficult high-arcing 3.
Corner Canyon is back in the 6A semifinals for the second straight year, a spot Lunt always expected this group of players to be.
“They just have something special about them. They’re not satisfied. We’ll go back to work. We’ll continue to do what we came here for,” said Lunt, whose team has now won seven straight games after sweeping the second half of Region 4 play heading into the playoffs.
Lunt said his team’s defensive pressure throughout the game was the difference.
“When you get here, and I like it, the whistles are less often. They let you play and they let the kids decide it, and if you can’t guard and defend you’re in trouble. It’s physical basketball and it’s fun and it’s the way it should be all the time,” he said.
Kozlowski’s game-winning 3-pointer was his third of the game as he finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Burraston added 14 points, with Max Toombs chipping in with 15.
It was Toombs who helped Corner Canyon regain the lead in the fourth quarter. He attacked the lane and got to the free-throw line on consecutive possessions making 3 of 4. Burraston then stretched the lead to 51-48 on a driving layup.
Cyprus’ Diego Mulford drained his fourth 3-pointer of the game at the 1:45 mark to tie it back up at 51-51. Kozlowski responded with his own 3 in another big momentum shift.
“Cyprus is a good team, they have good players, Tre does an unbelievable job with them. We knew it was going to be a battle. I told the boys in the huddle the last two or three minutes nobody is going to give it away, it’s whoever wants to go take it,” said Lunt.
Meza added 12 rebounds to go along with his 26 points for Cyprus, with Mulford adding 12 points all on 3-pointers.