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High school boys basketball: Farmington ends Provo’s Cinderella run in 5A tournament, but just barely

Senior Mason Covington hits clutch shots, free throw in final minutes after star sophomore Collin Chandler fouls out to give Phoenix a 78-76 overtime win

Farmington’s Mason Covington shoots in front of Provo’s Lincoln Prager (30), Gabriel Gutierrez (12) and Juan Camargo (42) during the 5A boys basketball state quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Farmington won 78-76 in overtime.
Farmington’s Mason Covington shoots in front of Provo’s Lincoln Prager (30), Gabriel Gutierrez (12) and Juan Camargo (42) during the 5A boys basketball state quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Farmington won 78-76 in overtime.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah high school basketball fans are going to hear a lot about Farmington’s Collin Chandler over the next few years. The sensational sophomore proved that by lighting up the scoreboard for 20 points Tuesday in a 5A boys basketball state quarterfinal game before fouling out.

His teammate, Mason Covington? Not so much.

But it was Covington, a nonstarting senior, who made the big shots and free throw down the stretch after Chandler had been disqualified. His heroics, as unexpected as they were, helped the eighth-seeded Phoenix thwart No. 17 seed Provo’s upset bid as Farmington prevailed 78-76 in overtime at the Huntsman Center.

“I have been working my whole life for one of those moments,” Covington said.

Farmington, the second-year school in Davis County, improved to 19-7 and will face fourth-seeded Timpview in the semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. Provo saw its Cinderella run in the state tournament end in heartbreaking fashion, but provided evidence along the way that the new all-comers tournament has its merits.

The Bulldogs (13-13), finished second-to-last in Region 8 and would not have even made the tournament under the old format. Then they knocked off Payson and No. 1 seed Maple Mountain in the first and second rounds last week, and showed they belonged by pushing Farmington to the limit.

“We didn’t play particularly well, but Provo was awesome today,” said Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst. “Obviously, they don’t score a lot of points (normally), but we sure let them tonight. They made big shots, and shots they don’t normally make.”

Senior Gabe Gutierrez led Provo with 25 points, while Juan Pablo Camargo added 20 and Isaac Castagnetto and Lincoln Prager chipped in 14 apiece. Prager banked in a half-court shot at the end of the first quarter and beat the halftime buzzer with a wild layup.

At that juncture, with Farmington clinging to a 34-33 halftime lead, it appeared to be Provo’s day.

But Chandler, McKay Thomsen (22 points, seven rebounds), Max Walton (eight points, eight rebounds), Truman Hendry (13 points, seven rebounds), Josh Wade (six points, four assists) and the aforementioned Covington had other ideas.

“It shows that we’ve got tough kids that believe in each other and believe that we can continue to make a run in this thing,” Walkenhurst said. “You just have to tough it out sometimes.”

Farmington used a 22-point third quarter to take a 58-49 lead heading into the fourth, but the underdog Bulldogs kept coming, backed by a surprisingly large contingent of fans from Utah County. A 3-point play by Gutierrez knotted the score at 59, but was quickly answered by Thomsen from long range and the game careened to its exciting finish.

Covington tied it at 71-71 with a layup with 10 seconds remaining in regulation — his first basket of the game — but missed the free throw that could have won it there.

Provo raced downcourt with the ball after Covington’s miss and seemed to be in position for an open shot, but the clock didn’t start, inexplicably, and officials stopped the action. The Bulldogs got a decent look after 7.1 seconds was put on the clock, but a layup rolled off.

In overtime, Covington made the 3-point play with 2:11 left that essentially won the game, this time making the free throw.

“I was just trying to make it exciting, missing that one in the fourth quarter to make it go into overtime in a state game,” he joked. “We have worked on those game-winning free throws all season. I knew it would go in.”

Thomsen and Caleb Mordue — Chandler’s replacement after he fouled out — were 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 42 seconds of overtime. Provo’s Gutierrez had a chance to tie it after getting fouled taking a 3-pointer with .02 seconds left. He made the first, missed the second, then purposefully missed the third in hopes of getting a miraculous tip.

“It was awesome to play here,” Covington said. “Just that arena feeling is so amazing to be in; Our student section came out, and it was loud. It was fun and the adrenaline was going. It was a fun game to play in.”

Especially at the end.