LEHI — It was a party at Lehi High School on Tuesday night.
Both the boys and girls basketball teams cut down the nets as Region 7 champs, and during the celebration at midcourt girls’ coach Aubrey Van Pelt told both teams “now it’s time to go win the big trophy.”
Her team was pegged the Region 7 preseason favorite by the league’s coaches back in November and backed it up with a 21-0 regular season. In fact, the Pioneers officially clinched the region title last week with a win over Timpview.
It easily won at Timpanogos on Tuesday to clinch the perfect record and celebrated with fans after returning to Lehi.
For Lehi’s boys, though, it needed to beat Timpanogos Tuesday to clinch the title. It did so in resounding fashion, 69-52, spurred on by a big second half.
“Even though we won region, anyone could’ve won this region,” said Lehi coach Sean Yeager, whose team posted a 9-3 mark in Region 7 after it was predicted to finish fifth. “We’re just grateful and thankful that the ball bounced our way and guys stepped up when they did.”
Tyson Hawkins led the way with 22 points, while Noa Gonsalves added 15 on a night when the Pioneers drained 10 3-pointers. It was the fifth game this season in which they made double-digit 3s.
They needed all those 3s to avenge a 47-46 loss to Timpanogos last month.
Just like Lehi, Timpanogos also controlled its region title destiny this week with a pair of wins. Outside of a brief stretch late in the second quarter and early in the third, though, the shots just weren’t dropping to give the ‘Wolves a realistic hope.
During that key stretch in the third quarter Timpanogos scored on three straight possessions to take a 30-28 lead at the 5:25 mark, just its second lead of the game.
“We knew they were going to make a run ‘cause they always do. They can all shoot and they’re hard to defend,” said Yeager.
Lehi had an emphatic response to briefly falling behind, however.
It regained the lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Hawkins and Gonsalves and didn’t let up closing the quarter on a 17-5 run. The lead never dipped into single digits the entire fourth quarter.
“We were fortunate enough to respond when they made that run. Noa hit some big 3s,” said Yeager.
Lehi will now have to wait until Saturday to learn its playoff fate when the final RPI rankings are released by the UHSAA. In the most recent rankings it was eighth, but it will hope to move up a spot or two in the final rankings.
For the girls team, it has occupied the No. 1 seed virtually all season and it will be the unquestioned favorite in next week’s 5A playoffs.
“It’s very hard mentally to go undefeated in a season, and for them to stay strong and stay driven all season long has been awesome,” said Van Pelt.