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High school boys basketball: Ethan Potter’s dominance powers Layton to 6A quarterfinal victory

Ethan Potter returned from a sprained ankle in the first quarter to record 28 points and 13 rebounds in the victory

Layton’s Ethan Potter keeps the ball from Pleasant Grove’s Andrew Williams in the 6A boys basketball quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Layton’s Ethan Potter keeps the ball from Pleasant Grove’s Andrew Williams in the 6A boys basketball quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Two minutes into Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Layton star Ethan Potter hobbled off the Huntsman Center court with a twisted ankle — and all of 6A held its breath.

Potter is one of the top scorers and rebounders in the state, and the biggest reason the Lancers won 19 games during the regular season. Without him, Layton’s title chances take a serious hit.

Fortunately for the Lancers, Potter returned as good as new after getting his ankle taped up, recording 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead No. 3 Layton to a comfortable 73-59 win over No. 11 Pleasant Grove in the 6A quarterfinals.

“Ethan’s one of the best players in the state — it’s a no-brainer to me. When he comes back out, obviously a big lift emotionally for our group. We just flow a lot better when he’s on the court,” said Layton coach Kelby Miller.

With the win, Layton advances to Friday’s 6A semifinals against region rival Fremont at 8:40 p.m. The teams split the season series.

With as familiar as the teams are, Miller said the semifinal will be all about execution and hitting shots.

Layton had no problem hitting shots on Wednesday, shooting 56% from the field thanks in large part to a 46-31 edge scoring in the paint.

A big reason for the interior dominance was the 6-foot-8 Potter. After returning a bit gingerly in the final minute of the first quarter, Potter’s adrenaline started pumping in the second quarter scoring 11 points to give the Lancers the 33-16 halftime lead.

The lead swelled to as much as 22 points early in the third. Miller said a big reason for the big cushion was the effort defensively.

“This group has those capabilities to get after teams defensively, and we just really buckled down on that end for the most part. ... We talk about no second chances all time. We had guys diving on the floor for loose balls, taking charges. If we’re doing those things on the defensive end, we’re pretty good,” said Miller.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable advantage, Pleasant Grove kept attacking the paint and slowly clawed back into the game capitalizing on the Lancers’ turnovers problems.

The Vikings cut the deficit to 55-42 by the end of the third quarter, and in the fourth continued to chip away, cutting it all the way to 61-55 with 3:51 remaining on a 3-pointer by Jordan Ross.

Over the next two minutes Pleasant Grove missed three different 3-pointer attempts that would’ve made it a one-possession game.

Layton’s Tanner Kofoed finally relieved some of the pressure for his team on a transition three-point play that pushed the lead back to 64-55 to effectively seal the win.

Kofoed finished with 21 points and five assists.

“When you play with a guy like Ethan, Ethan is going to get a lot of the credit. But Tanner is one of the best guards in the state, does a great job for us taking care of the basketball, hitting shots, can still be aggressive though and get to the paint and do some good things for us that way,” said Miller.

Carter Mayfield chipped in with 10 points for Layton as well, while McCaden Adams led Pleasant Grove in the loss with 15 points.