KAYSVILLE — For the third time this year, Region 1 foes Davis and Layton hit the hardwood on Friday night. Both teams beat the other once in region play, but this pseudo tiebreaker game had more at stake than a potential region victory.
With a berth in the 6A state tournament quarterfinals on the line, Davis’ Rex Sunderland hit a driving scoop shot with three seconds remaining to give the Darts a 41-39 victory.
Davis held the lead for just 26 total seconds of gameplay, but led when it mattered most.
Davis head coach Chad Sims says he and his squad felt fortunate to come out of the game with a win and advance into the next round.
“I told the guys, ‘I can’t remember the last time we were a part of a game like that,’” said Sims. “It’s almost like (Layton) just ran out of time. If they had a couple more possessions, I don’t think we could’ve stopped them.”
The Lancers looked like a completely different team from when they faced Davis two weeks ago in what was a double-digit loss. The defense played terrific the whole game, but looked its best in the first quarter when the Lancers held Davis to just two points.
“(Layton) was phenomenal defensively. They really got after it, caused us a lot of problems and made it so we couldn’t really get into a rhythm,” said Sims.
Layton’s defensive effort gave it a 10-point lead in the first half, but Davis kept on trying to claw its way back. The Darts went on a quick 5-0 run over the last minute and a half of the first half to cut the lead to five heading into intermission.
This quick run by Davis initiated a sequence in which both teams took turns going on more scoring runs. Layton started the third quarter with a quick 5-0 run and Davis followed that up with a 10-0 run to tie the game midway through the third. Layton then replied with a 7-0 run and finally Davis responded with a 7-0 run of its own to tie the game with 3:42 left in the fourth quarter.
With 43 seconds remaining in the game, Davis’ Chance Trujillo nailed a corner 3 to give Davis a two-point lead, its first lead of the game, but Layton’s Preston Squire responded by sinking a teardrop layup on the other side of the floor to level the game back up with 20 seconds left.
Electing to not call a timeout, Sims decided to let his players do their thing, a decision that ultimately led to the game-winning layup by Sunderland.
“We didn’t want to call a timeout and let Layton get set into something, so we just kind of let it play out. Rex has been doing that the last few games, and he converted on that play too,” said Sims.
Sunderland actually had an opportunity to give Davis its first lead with one minute left after drawing an and-one foul call. Sunderland missed the free throw and the game remained tied.
Sunderland capitalized on his next opportunity to give his team the advantage, and Sims was very complimentary of the mental toughness of his junior guard.
“One of Rex’s biggest attributes is his short memory. He doesn’t worry about that stuff, so I wasn’t worried about it either. He’s a competitor and he wants the ball in his hands in those times,” said Sims.
Layton’s Andrew Brown had a chance to win the game on a deep, 28-foot 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, but the shot narrowly missed, drawing an appreciable gasp from all who were in attendance.
“I thought it was in,” said Sims. “In fact, I saw (Brown’s) dad in the stands and I went over to him and said, ‘That was freaking close. It almost went in.’”
Chance Trujillo finished as the top scorer with 10 points in what was a balanced scoring effort for Davis. Sunderland finished with only six points, but four of those points came in the last minute of the game when his team needed them the most.
Layton and its outstanding senior forward tandem of Ethan Potter (25 ppg and 10 rpg) and Squire (13 ppg and 7 rpg) saw its season come to an end, but it certainly went out with a hard-fought effort. Potter and Squire finished with 13 and 11 points respectively.
“When you are in these close, contested ball games, especially against a region team, the game usually comes down to the little things,” said Layton coach Kelby Miller. “I think our guys did an amazing job executing the game plan.”
Davis’ focus now turns to second-seeded Pleasant Grove, which is coming off of a 30-point second round victory over Weber.
When asked about the potential challenges that facing Pleasant Grove on road presents, Sims said he wanted to take a short recovery break after his team’s exhausting win over Layton before turning his thoughts over to Vikings.
“I’ll worry about that tomorrow, not tonight,” said Sims with a mask-covered smile.