Cottonwood 52, Logan 48

In 2004, Cottonwood had one of its best seasons in school history with a second-place finish in the 5A state tournament, losing 33-32 to Hunter in the championship game.

What the Colts didn’t know is that was the last time they would make it to the semifinals for 20 years.

The Colts came close to ending the drought last year but lost to Timpview in the quarterfinals.

However, on Monday No. 6 Cottonwood broke the 20-year curse with a 52-48 win over No. 3 Logan.

“That’s what we’ve been talking about,” said Cottonwood head coach Marc Miller. “The last five years we’ve slowly made our way up.

“Last year we made the quarterfinals and I don’t know that we were prepared for the big arena. This year we were prepared, we had confidence coming in and that was a good Logan team.”

Cottonwood got out to a 12-10 lead in the first quarter with Colts’ John Rossevear scoring seven of those.

Rossevear wound up being the leading scorer for Cottonwood on the day with 17 points while making two 3-pointers.

While the Colts’ lead was small, they held onto it for most of the quarterfinal game. Miller said the defense was to thank.

“They’ve battled all year and we’ve worked a lot on defense,” he said. “We told them that defense was going to win the game tonight and I think our physical play is what gave us the advantage today.”

Cottonwood entered halftime with a slim 22-21 lead, which it stretched to 36-32 by the end of the third quarter.  

The Grizzlies made a push in the fourth quarter and got the game within a single possession multiple times, but each time Cottonwood held them off.

“I’ve seen unity and the boys love playing together,” said Miller. “I told them at the beginning of the season that if they all buy in and not worry about themselves but worry about the team then things will work out in their favor and that’s what they’ve done.”

Cottonwood will have a chance to get its first championship appearance since 2004 in the 4A semifinals, where it will face No. 7 Snow Canyon.

Snow Canyon 68, Dixie 57

In both of its regular-season meetings this season, No. 2 Dixie earned convincing 16- and 18-point victories over No. 7 Snow Canyon.

However, the third meeting between the two teams in the 4A quarterfinals Monday was different, with Snow Canyon upsetting Dixie 68-57 on Monday.

A big difference for the Warriors was avoiding a big third-quarter slump, which head coach Ryan Ball said was an issue earlier this season.

“Last two times we played Dixie the first half was great,” he said. “We stayed right there with them and in the third we stopped executing, let them get out in transition. We started the third quarter today doing that a little bit, but we slowed it down and executed and that’s what made the difference. It was us being us and not letting them play their game.”

Snow Canyon got a big lift from senior Owen Mackay, who was fresh off a 45-point performance against Mountain View.

“Owen does all the things you really want,” said Ball. “He’s the superstar that doesn’t always look for a shot. He’s finding the open guys, leading by example and that’s what he did again. Dixie made it tough on him and he was still aggressive.”

Mackay ended Monday’s game with 23 points and two 3-pointers. He was supported by Damon Ence, who had 14 points and hit four 3-pointers.

Ence hit three shots from beyond the arc in the third period to help the Warriors avoid a second-half slump.

In the fourth quarter the Warriors got contact and kept its lead at the free-throw line, resulting in the double-digit quarterfinal victory.

Ball said it was especially meaningful to get a statement postseason win against a region foe.

“It’s huge, especially against region foes that have gotten us couple of times,” he said. “It was absolutely amazing, but we feel like we can go all the way. We have two more that we can take if we execute like that again, and it’s going to be tough to beat us.”

Layton Christian 58, Murray 53

No. 1 Layton Christian Academy squeaked out a 58-53 win over No. 8 Murray.

The Spartans got out to a quick lead, thanks to their defense holding the Eagles to only one field goal in the first quarter.

While Layton Christian finally got its offense going in the second quarter, it still missed shots around the rim and missed free throws, which Murray capitalized on to take a 27-20 halftime lead.

“Honestly, it was a little bit of jitters,” said Layton Christian coach Casey Stanley. “You’re playing your first playoff game, you’re in a big arena for the first time, you’re playing a team you haven’t seen before, and different kids react differently to situations.”

“We’ve got kids where this is really their first time playing in the playoffs. In the first half we had little jitters like missing layups and free throws.”

The Eagles had a much better effort out of halftime and spent most of the second half just behind Murray.

Layton Christian’s Alan Gballau scored eight points in the second half, four of which came from dunks, giving the Eagles some much-needed momentum.

Luka Kulundzic also boosted the Eagles’ offense in the second half with 11 points and three 3-pointers.

“I think our team is really talented and really athletic, but I think Murray did a fantastic job of slowing us down and not letting us make athletic plays,” said Stanley. “All the credit goes to Murray, tremendous team and tremendous coach. But I thought our boys did a great job and showed a lot of mental toughness.”

A bucket from Gballau midway through the fourth quarter tied things up at 45-45 and Layton Christian finally built a small lead.

The lead didn’t last long, though, as Murray’s Isaiah Beh hit a 3-pointer with two minutes left to tie things up again at 49-49.

Layton Christian hasn’t played many tight games this season.

“We haven’t played a lot of close games this year,” Stanley said. “It’s something we have to learn as a team, not just in the state tournament, but as a team we have to execute. We’re still making foolish mistakes down the stretch, and you can only practice so many special situations before they get a feel.”

Despite its inexperience in close games, the Eagles scored nine points in the final two minutes and secured the 58-53 4A quarterfinal victory.

Green Canyon 67, Ridgeline 64

On Feb. 2 Green Canyon had a season low in a 49-36 loss to Ridgeline, its second loss to the RiverHawks this season.

So when the Wolves were matched up with Ridgeline in the 4A quarterfinals it made sure things were going to be different.

“Last time we lost to Ridgeline we met as a staff and talked about how we needed an eight game plan,” said Green Canyon head coach Logan Brown. “We can’t just fix things here and there one game at a time, we have to look at this as we’re trying to play for everything until to the end.”

“The kids have been resilient. After the last loss to Ridgeline all the kids showed up at 6 o’clock on a Saturday in the gym and started shooting. We’re really lucky to coach this group because they’re senior led, theres a lot of senior leadership in that locker room.”

Green Canyon started hot scoring 24 points in the first quarter including five 3-pointers which earned it a 24-17 lead.

The Wolves pushed its lead further, but Ridgeline fought back. RiverHawks’ Carson Cox had 7 points in the quarter and 20 in the game to help tie the game 35-35 at halftime.

In the second half Green Canyon went back to what worked in the first quarter, which was finding the open shooters.

Wolves’ Jared Anderson and Layker Ward scored two 3-pointers each in the third quarter to gain back a 55-47 lead.

Anderson led Green Canyon in scoring with 23 points with five 3-pointers. Ward was just behind with 20 points while scoring six 3-pointers.

Green Canyon scored 13 3-pointers throughout its quarterfinal match.

“We were really confident, I think our shooters got open and guys were able to find them by coming off screens and executing,” said Brown. “It really came down to our level of execution which was really high today. That’s exactly what you want coming into the last week of the season.”

While Green Canyon only scored two field goals in the fourth quarter, Anderson got to the line and scored five points off free throws which helped the Wolves hold onto their lead.