For Farmington’s Collin Chandler, the sting of losing to Timpview in last year’s 5A state semifinals on a buzzer beater took a long time to subside.
His Phoenix had a chance to avenge it in a December preseason rematch, but a lack of continuity and confidence were issues at that point in the season as Timpview won easily by 14.
That loss proved to be the turning point in the season for Farmington.
That loss was the final game before the Christmas break, which did wonders for Farmington.
“Once we had Christmas break to fix what we were trying to do, do a couple team things, get our chemistry going again, since then we’ve won 15 of 16,” said Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst.
Win No. 15 came Friday night in the 5A semifinals at Salt Lake Community College with a 60-51 win over Timpview, which was a long time coming said Chandler.
“That team is so tough, but I think we wanted it more than them. We’ve been waiting the whole year to get back at them — so happy it was the semis again. I think we kind of came in with a chip on our shoulder,” said Chandler, who led his team in scoring with 15 points.
The game was a defensive grind for both teams, but not everyone struggled offensively. The hot hand of senior Everett Page swung momentum Farmington’s way late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, a lead it never relinquished in advancing to Saturday’s 5A title game.
With Timpview leading 38-31 with 2:12 left in the third quarter, Farmington had an emphatic response with a 16-2 run to take a 47-40 lead at the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
Page buried three 3-pointers during the stretch, including treys on back-to-back possessions that pushed the lead to 47-40.
Top seed Timpview tried to shoot itself back into the game, but finished 4 of 19 from the field in the fourth quarter. It finished shooting 34% with Farmington connecting on 46% from the field.
The closest Timpview cut the deficit was 55-51 with 39 seconds remaining on a three-point play from Coleman Ford. The T-Birds missed their final four shots though, which was pattern throughout the second half.
“We knew we were going to have to play about as well as we can to beat a team like that, especially on the defensive end, and I thought we did that,” said Walkenhurst.
Farmington’s coach said the goal was to try and limit the big three of Jake Wahlin, Jaxson Santiago and Coleman Ford as best it could, and Wahlin was the only one who reached double figures with 15 points.
James Rust led Timpview with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
For Farmington to be playing for the state championship in just its third season as a school, Chandler said that speaks to the chemistry of the Phoenix.
“I think our chemistry is different this year. We have a lot of guys that are close to or the same age that have grown up together, we’ve been playing together forever, so the chemistry is definitely different this year,” said Chandler.
“We knew we were going to have to play about as well as we can to beat a team like that, especially on the defensive end, and I thought we did that.” — Farmington coach Kasey Walkenhurst
With that chemistry, Walkenhurst admits he was a bit surprised his team started the season 4-6 despite the difficult preseason schedule.
“I think our guys earlier in December, we weren’t a cohesive unit yet. I don’t know if we believed in what we were doing at that point,” said Walkenhurst.
The belief has been there for the past two months though, and Farmington matched Timpview’s intensity from the opening whistle. Farmington led 13-10 after the first quarter, and then the game was tied 24-24 at the break.
The T-Birds seized momentum early in the third quarter, but Page’s heroics helped win it back.