In the RPI era, every game matters for playoff seeding, but region championships also still matter. It’s why Alta’s players definitely had mid-January home games against Lehi and Timpview circled on their calendar as must-win games.
No. 1 Alta used a big fourth-quarter comeback last Friday to rally past Lehi for a win in the first of the back-to-back marquee games. Wednesday night, however, it took care of business a bit sooner.
Leading by just one at the half, Alta dominated at both ends of the third quarter stretching the lead to double digits heading into the fourth as it coasted from there for the 75-61 victory in the Region 7 clash.
“We try to let our defense lead to offense. In the first half, give Timpview a ton of credit they got us out of what we wanted to do, but in that third quarter we really buckled down defensively and got those stops and leads to transition buckets for us where I think we’re the best,” said Alta coach Travis Ohrn.
With the victory, the Hawks improved to 15-1 overall, but just as importantly, 5-0 in region with wins already under their belt over the next three teams in the league standings.
Ohrn said he’s particularly pleased with the character his players have shown all season in rising to the challenge of getting every team’s best effort.
“That’s a credit to our guys. We have guys that just love to play basketball and they love to play together. We know at this point we’re going to get everyone’s best shot and we’re OK with that, we like that,” said Ohrn.
Alta’s big two of Jaxon Johnson and Ace Reiser were the stars again on Wednesday as Reiser ran the show at point guard finishing with 26 points, with Johnson adding 21 points.
Reiser, who transferred over from Bingham in the summer, has scored in double figures in every game but two this season, and Ohrn said the junior has risen the level of the entire locker from Day 1.
“He’s helped push those guys to the next level,” said Ohrn.
The intensity level was high from both teams from the opening tip, with Timpview trailing just 33-32 at the break after shooting an impressive 50 percent from the field in the first half.
They turned the ball over 10 times in that opening half — more than any coach would like — but it made up for it on the defensive glass only conceding four offensive rebounds to a lengthy Alta squad.
Timpview continued to shoot the ball efficiently in the third quarter, problem was it just didn’t take enough shots, just seven total. Alta’s defense sped up the game in the third forcing eight turnovers to spark a 21-11 scoring run and a 54-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“I think our guys are just resilient, a lot of things didn’t go our way, some shots that we usually make, but we just stuck with it and I think there were times we passed up a good shot for a great shot and I think we benefitted from it,” said Ohrn.
Reiser scored nine of his 26 points in the third quarter to key the run, and tacked on 11 more in the fourth as Alta only let the lead slip to single digits just twice in the final quarter.
In the loss, James Rust scored 17 points to lead Timpview, which dropped to 9-5 on the season.