The first night of the 5A playoffs started with a thrilling back and forth matchup between No. 22 seed Bonneville and No. 11 seed Cedar Valley that ended with Cedar Valley advancing to the second round with a 53-52 victory.

The Aviators found themselves down by one point with only 20 seconds remaining when head coach Blake Pugmire called a timeout to draw up the final play. He said of the play, “We wanted to run something where we could get a little two-man game going, cause they hard hedge so much. Maybe get a switch, so we figured we could either get Hunter going downhill to try and score an easy bucket. ... If they did switch and hard hedge that, we could probably get Owen down underneath the basket for a little high low action.” 

His plan came to fruition perfectly with the game-winning bucket when Hunter Larson curled around a screen from junior center Owen Bawden, followed by a dish and score for the big man. 

The game started slow for Cedar Valley, with early turnovers and missed shots leading to a 9-3 deficit after just three minutes. It was able to storm back to tie the game following two steals and scores, including a 3-pointer from star senior Hunter Larson. 

A constant switching of defensive schemes seemed to slow down the early Bonneville offense. Coach Pugmire noted, “We typically like to switch up our defenses and just try to keep other teams guessing.” The offense really slowed down for Bonneville in the second quarter, managing only nine points in the quarter.

Bonneville’s second leading scorer, Nick Sebahar, was forced to leave the game early with two quick fouls, but senior guard Zac Combe kept the Lakers afloat with 11 first half points, including a straight-on 3-pointer to start the second quarter.

Combe led the team in scoring with 16.

A key piece of the victory for Cedar Valley was sophomore Diego Roberts’ play in the second half. “Usually when we need a little bit of extra energy, we usually bring him off the bench to give us a little boost,” Pugmire said. Roberts was just that tonight.

“Someone to put on usually the other team’s guard, just to pressure them and harass them a little bit.” He had the assignment of slowing down Combe, and did so to the tune of several steals and stops in the second half. “He stepped up big tonight, he had a few big steals there at the end of the game.”

It was Roberts who got a steal that gave Cedar Valley the ball before its final timeout and the game-winning bucket from Bawden.

The game started to slip away from Cedar Valley when Bonneville star Ben Tesch nailed three 3-pointers in the final quarter, including one from the left corner with 1:06 left to put it up by five points.

Two quick layups for the Aviators brought the deficit to one, and then Bawden scored two of his 15 points to put them ahead.

Bonneville had a chance with 6 seconds remaining, but tough defense from Cedar Valley forced a difficult corner three from Jaxon Johnson that fell just short.

Cedar Valley advances to face off against No. 6 seed Bountiful on Feb. 21. The two teams played in the first contest of the season, a game the Aviators played without Owen Bawden and lost 74-56. They are poised to avenge the early season loss, this time with Bawden commanding the middle.