PROVO — When Gavin Hardy is popping off from 3-point range, coupled with a stingy team defensive effort, the Salem Hills boys basketball team is tough to beat.
Provo found that out on Friday, with the Skyhawks leading big throughout before coming away with a 58-48 win on Provo’s home floor.
Hardy led the way with a game-high 26 points and was at his best during a key 18-2 run in the first half, which gave the Skyhawks a commanding lead they held for the rest of the way. Hardy contributed three of his six 3-pointers during the stretch as his team built a 23-11 lead right before the half.
“When he’s hitting like that, we’re tough to beat,” said Salem Hills coach Blake Francom. “Hopefully he can keep it up, and it’s taken him a bit of time to get his rhythm, but hopefully he can keep it up.”
As good as Hardy was, the defense applied by the Skyhawks was even better, with Francom’s team allowing just two points during just short of an eight minute stretch.
“We pride ourselves on defense and our benchmark is holding teams under 40% shooting,” Francom said. “We had them under 40% at the half, and if we kept that up, then that would be the seventh game in a row where we’ve done it, so that’s huge for us.”
Helping out down low was the play of Derek Burton, who contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Skyhawks.
“He’s just beast for us down low there,” Francom said. “He’s a lineman for our football team, so he’s tough to handle with how big and physical he plays.”
Hardy didn’t slow down in the second half, hitting two more 3-pointers early in the third quarter to help extend the lead to 34-16 right out of the gate.
Provo was unable to make much of a dent in that lead throughout the remainder, with the final 10-point deficit proving the closest it came to the lead.
Provo was led by Gabe Gutierrez on the night and his team-high 15 points.
With the win, Salem Hills improves to 6-6 overall and 3-0 in Region 8 play.
Things are coming together for Francom’s team after losing six of seven games to start the season.
“It was a rough start, but we went against some really good teams and it seems we’re starting to figure things out,” Francom said. “I’m proud of the guys for keeping at it in time for region play and hopefully we can keep improving from here.”
Provo falls to 8-4 overall and 0-3 in Region 7 play with the loss.