It hasn’t taken Josh Margetts long to create a memorable season for Woods Cross basketball.
The Wildcats haven’t won a boys basketball state championship since 1983, but the first-year coach has them on the cusp of the 5A state title after their 59-47 win over Murray Wednesday night at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Mason Bendinger led three players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to start the second half to earn their ninth straight win and an opportunity to take on the Olympus Titans Saturday at BYU’s Marriott Center.
The Wildcats and their fans were celebrating wildly on this night, but it’s pretty clear who will be tabbed as “Cinderella” in the finale.
“A lot of our guys stepped up and made plays,” said Margetts, brushing away what might have been a couple gallons of water that his excited players doused him with in the post-game locker room.
About two months ago, the Wildcats had a 5-5 record and a special season seemed unlikely. Since then, they’ve won 13 of 16 games, including three over their rival, Bountiful. They narrowly missed the Region 5 championship but have seemingly used that as motivation to earn a first-round tourney win over Bountiful, and then Box Elder, before moving to the Huntsman Center to upset second-seeded Orem and then No. 6 Murray.
Bendinger was the key. He made 7 of 13 shots, including three 3-pointers. Prior to the game, he also asked Margetts to guard Murray’s top scorer, Chudi Anosike.
Anosike had 21 points but also committed five turnovers, and Bendinger got more help from his teammates, like Zach Delange (14 points) and Nic Hogan (13).
The Wildcats shot just under 50% and were 6 for 13 from long range. In the fourth quarter, they had built the lead to 21 points and made enough plays to keep the Spartans from gaining any momentum.
The Woods Cross student section was active the entire night and anxious to end a championship drought of almost 40 years. It has been 1983 since their only boys’ crown, and just the opportunity to take Olympus was enough of a reason to celebrate.
Murray finished a special season, too, winning 20 games. Bowen Davis added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Spartans, who finished second to Olympus in Region 6 and lost by 20-30 points each time.
With a neutral, unknown venue (for high school teams) like the Marriott Center, and plenty of momentum, they hope Cinderella’s slipper fits.