With a berth in the 5A semifinals in sight and facing a tough battle against Mountain View on its home court as the fourth quarter unfolded, Farmington didn’t need to call a timeout to set up its next offensive plays.
Coach Kasey Walkenhurst already knew what needed to happen, and so did playmaker Collin Chandler. The 6-foot-4 junior took the ball and took over the game, scoring 11 of his game-high 29 points in the final six minutes as the Phoenix held off the Bruins 61-56 in an exciting quarterfinal battle in Farmington’s gym.
“No. I didn’t have to say anything,” Walkenhurst said. “That’s the kind of kid he is. He knew what needed to be done. He’s done that for us all year.”
“We needed to settle down and get the right shots,” said Chandler, who also had 13 rebounds and several nice passes to teammates. “I know my role. You have to feel how the game is going.”
With the win, the third-year school advanced to 5A semifinals for the second straight season. The Phoenix improved to 18-7 and will play top-seeded Timpview Friday at Salt Lake Community College. Chandler noted it was Timpview which defeated Farmington last season. The Phoenix were also beaten by the Thunderbirds earlier this year, and that motivated the team all day as they prepared to play Timpview’s Region 7 foe - Mountain View - and earn another chance.
The Bruins, however, came in prepared and proved to be a difficult opponent. They didn’t have the athleticism to always match Chandler or 6-foot-7 center Truman Hendry, but they often outhustled Farmington for loose balls, made difficult shots in the key and took advantage of a substantial foul differential in the first half to rally from an early deficit and keep the game close.
Led by Calvin Gustafson, their 6-foot-8 center, and a 19-of-25 team effort from the charity stripe, the Bruins had a 47-46 lead when coach Shawn Faux noticed Farmington began setting up its offense differently.
With 6:19 left, Chandler took the ball after crossing midcourt, sized up the defense and drove into the key, where he was fouled. He made two free throws for a 50-49 lead and that was the start of eight straight points, including a dunk, that got the Farmington crowd excited. Mountain View couldn’t get any closer than four the rest of the game.
“We needed to settle down and get the right shots. I know my role. You have to feel how the game is going.” — Farmington guard Collin Chandler
“We knew he was their guy,” Faux said. “Sure, we thought about changing our defense, but he’s such a cerebral kid … he would notice it. Farmington has a good offense and they’re such good shooters. We wanted to do what we do best, and that’s to man up.”
It wasn’t enough. Chandler’s dunk, as well as a fine defensive effort by Hendry that prevented a Mountain View layup, was a four-point swing in the final minutes that eventually made the difference. The outcome was finally decided when Chandler swished two free throws with 11 seconds left to give Farmington a 60-54 lead, and then after a Bruin score, he made another to prevent a miracle rally.
Mountain View was obviously disappointed after such a close finish. The Bruins finished with a 15-9 record, and made a respectable impact as the tournament’s 12th seed. Preston Thompson added 12 points and Court Walker 11.
Hendry had 14 points for Farmington.