The Corner Canyon Chargers had accumulated 23 wins before taking the court for their 6A semifinal matchup with Lone Peak Thursday.

But according to senior Jaxson Roberts, those wins won’t matter to the team if they don’t end their season brandishing a state championship trophy — an experience that narrowly eluded them in the 6A title game last year. 

By those self-established standards, the top-seeded Chargers’ managed to keep hopes of a relevant season alive, thanks to a dominant 72-54 semifinal victory over the Knights at the Dee Events Center. 

“They remember,” Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt said of last year’s state title shortcomings. “They know what the feeling’s like when they put that kind of work in and come home empty … They remember and that’s all that needs to be said.”

Though they’ve looked every bit the part of a No. 1 seed this tournament, the Chargers played like they needed to prove they were worthy to vie for a state championship for the second straight season. 

But fourth-seeded Lone Peak — which the Chargers beat twice in the regular season by an average of 19 points per game — jumped out of the gates like they had something to prove as well. Thanks to some impressive shooting (4-for-5 from the 3-point line) in the opening quarter, the Knights punched pound-for-pound with the Chargers and led 20-19 after the first eight minutes. 

“Credit to Lone Peak, they came ready to play,” Lunt said. “They slugged us in the mouth in that first quarter and got what they wanted.”

But the script flipped quickly and dramatically. 

Over the first four minutes of the second quarter, Corner Canyon orchestrated a 14-0 scoring run that gave the Chargers a double-digit lead it wouldn’t relinquish the remainder of the contest. 

Corner Canyon held the Knights to just 16% shooting in the quarter, including 1-for-6 from a 3-point line they relied upon in the opening quarter. From that point on, Lone Peak never managed to regain its footing in the game offensively.

When asked what varied for his team from the first quarter to the second, Lunt said there weren’t any adjustments that were made, just increased motivation.

“I don’t know if anything changed,” Lunt said. “We just challenged our kids to buck up and guard and they did.”

Lunt added that the flipping of the switch on defense changed the whole game for the Chargers, who started seeing more transition opportunities after stringing together defensive stops. Corner Canyon forced 13 turnovers–scoring 18 points of those turnovers–and scored 11 fast break points. 

Lunt said that defense is the ultimate key for the Chargers, who average nearly 76 points per game. 

“We’re built around our defense and when we guard we’re really good,” Lunt said.

Offensively, the Chargers looked like their usual selves — a dangerous lineup that can shoot and drive from all positions. All five of the Corner Canyon starters hit at least one 3-pointer in the first half. 

The trio of Roberts, Max Toombs and Brody Kozlowski combined to score 61 of the Chargers’ 71 points. Roberts finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals, while Kozlowski scored a game-high 26 points while notching 10 rebounds.

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Toombs, who recorded 16 points and seven rebounds, hit a pair of hard-earned mid-range jumpers that sparked the pivotal second quarter run for the Chargers. 

Though he didn’t pile up the points, Taylor Feroah did the little things for Corner Canyon, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds while dishing out six assists on zero turnovers. 

The Chargers led the rebounding battle 41-27.

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Lone Peak’s Isaac Staley did what he could to give the Chargers a game, scoring a team-high 17 points, but the sophomore only managed to score five points after the first quarter. 

All-in-all, the Corner Canyon lead climbed as high as 22 points late in the fourth quarter, at which point the Chargers emptied their bench — a welcome sight for any team late in a playoff game. 

With the convincing semifinal win, the stars have aligned for the Chargers to acquire their coveted redemption, as they’ll play in Saturday’s 6A championship at 4:30 p.m.

“We’ve all been there (before),” Roberts said. “We know the atmosphere’s going to be great and loud. Honestly, if we just play with the same intensity as today, I think that’ll be the game changer.”

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