RICHFIELD — After torching the nets early on against Valley in the opening game of the 1A boys basketball tournament, Tabiona cooled off considerably.
Having jumped out to an early double-digit lead, the Tigers managed just three points in the second quarter and nine in the third to eventually lead by just a point, 30-29, heading into the all-important fourth quarter.
But with their season on the line, the Tigers came through big time.
Tabiona got stops at the defensive end and ripped off a 12-2 run at the other end to take permanent control of Wednesday's opening-round playoff game and post a 49-42 win over the Buffaloes inside the Sevier Valley Center.
Star forward Robbie Giles scored eight of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, and guards Dane Rhoades and Gerald Van Tassell led the charge at the defensive end. Van Tassell (12) and Rhoades (11) also finished in double-figures offensively.
"We knew we hadn't played our best basketball the last two quarters, and so we just decided we had to buckle down and win this thing — finish and hit shots and get it done," said Van Tassell.
That's precisely what Tabiona did early on in the fourth quarter.
Giles opened the period with a three-point play and then a quick basket to make the score 35-29, and after Lance Maxwell made a shot for Valley, Tabiona scored seven consecutive points to permanently take control.
"I felt like Giles finished in the fourth quarter where he missed some puppies early on," said Tabiona coach Shay Price.
And Giles was part of a solid defensive effort that was marshaled by Rhoades and Van Tassell.
Price knew before Wednesday's first-round game that his kids would have their hands full trying to slow down Valley stars Maxwell and Clay Williams.
Maxwell finished with a team-high 14 points and Williams added 12, but the Tigers did a good enough of keeping them as quiet as possible — especially early in the fourth quarter — to ultimately prevail.
"The two kids — Williams and Maxwell — you're not gonna find two tougher kids than that to guard," said Price. "I just felt like the game plan was to try and make some other kids shoot and make shots instead of those two.
"They still made shots, (but) I felt like we did about as good a job on them as you can do. And we just scored enough points to win."10 comments on this story
Price was full of praise afterward for Valley, which had to beat St. Joseph in a play-in game at St. Joseph just 16 hours earlier to earn the right to face Tabiona on Wednesday morning at 10.
"They never give up," Price said of Valley. "To play a 4 o'clock game yesterday in a tough gym at St. Joseph — I've played there — it's tough to play that game and then come down here and play the first game this morning.
"It's just incredible that their kids have anything left, and they didn't give up. I credit Dustin (Shakespear), their coach, for gettin' them down there, winning, and gettin' down here for this game. He does a phenomenal job."