American Fork picked up its third straight playoff win with a 60-43 victory over Syracuse. The two teams battled throughout the first quarter with both shooting over 50% as the Cavemen grabbed a 15-12 lead after three lead changes.

Carter Semrow knocked in a 3-pointer on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game. From that point forward, American Fork separated itself from the Titans. Over the final minutes of the second quarter, through aggressive defense and great bench play, American Fork finished the half on a 12-2 run — sparked by sophomore Evan Young’s defensive intensity. Young finished the first half with four steals as the Cavemen forced 13 turnovers. 

”Evan has been our floor leader on the defensive end from day one. We have had to catch up with him, but we appreciate the energy he brings for us and the excitement he has to lock somebody up and be at his best. He does a great job staying in front of his guy,” American Fork coach Ryan Cuff said.

The defensive pressure continued throughout the game with the Cavemen never allowing Syracuse to get into its offense consistently. 

“I feel like it comes from all of us, all of us pressuring the ball and playing good help defense. We are really coming together on the defensive side and that is what we need to do the rest of the tournament,” Young said.

American Fork also got great contributions from the bench. Tiger Cuff, Ollie Anderson and Aaron Dunne all played double-digit minutes. The trio combined to score 15 points on 7-for-8 shooting and added four assists. Dunne has been finding his way back from offseason ankle surgery and finished with eight points and four rebounds.

“It is awesome, everyone is always fresh, nobody is worried about being tired, we can keep going and keep pushing. We can keep the pressure on,” Young said.

”Evan has been our floor leader on the defensive end from day one.” — American Fork coach Ryan Cuff

American Fork kept the pressure on throughout the second half as it ran a patient offense and found easy baskets. The Cavemen finished with 60 points on just 47 possessions. 

“It comes back to sharing the ball, when we saw those 14 assists, it shows we are sharing the ball and everybody is getting touches and it makes it easier for all of us in creating high percentage shots,” Cuff said.

The Titans were led by Brevin Hamblin, who finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in the loss. Ashton Wallace finished with 17 points and eight boards. Throughout the game he was able to get in good position and create passing angles that led to easy baskets.

“We went to the post a lot and we have a lot of players that are good at getting the ball down there,” Wallace said. “Noah Moeaki can draw double teams and it creates those opportunities for me.”