RICHFIELD — For all intents and purposes, the Panguitch Bobcats slept through the opening three quarters of their first-round playoff game against ICS at the 1A boys basketball tournament.
Matched up against a team in ICS that came out with a stellar game plan and was executing it to perfection, Panguitch's players looked like they were a step slow and simply struggled and struggled and struggled some more.
But when faced with the real possibility of seeing their season coming to a premature close, the fourth-ranked Bobcats finally sprung to life. Panguitch made some key adjustments on defense and got clutch plays all over the court from star guard Brooks Leach to come-from-behind and win, 46-35, Wednesday afternoon at the Sevier Valley Center.
"We feel dang lucky to be able to leave here with a win," said Panguitch coach Clint Barney.
Two things, in particular, helped Panguitch ultimately get that victory: No. 1, Barney's decision to move out of a man-to-man defense, and No. 2, Leach.
ICS surprisingly led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter and maintained a lead all the way through to the fourth quarter.
Barney decided to use more zone defense in the second half, though, and the Bobcats finally started to get going near the end of the third quarter.
As the game played out, it was clear that the defensive switch played a pivotal role in the game's outcome.
"Defense usually wins out, and I felt like that's what won for us because we didn't click on offense," said Barney.
And then there was Leach.
Despite struggling with his shot throughout, Leach simply dug in and made clutch plays to make sure the Bobcats didn't lose.
With his team trailing 33-30 early in the fourth quarter, Leach made several huge plays on defense and rattled off five consecutive points on offense to put Panguitch in front by two points.
ICS's Shaun Boyle made a field goal to temporarily tie the game at 35-35, but the Bobcats closed the game on an 11-0 run to survive and advance.
Leach finished with a stat-sheet filling line of 22 points, 14 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. The points, rebounds, and steals were all game highs and the assist total was a team high.
"Yeah, he was a spark — no doubt about it," said Barney. "I thought he missed a lot of easy shots inside that he would normally make, but he was disruptive on defense, which we needed."
When Panguitch was struggling in the second half, Leach said he took it upon himself to make sure things got turned around.2 comments on this story
"We've got two seniors — me and Eric (Frandsen) — so both of us had to step up towards the end," said Leach.
Frandsen added 15 points and Riley Miller had seven for Panguitch, which never shot the ball well but did play well enough defensively to oust ICS.
Hayes Clement scored 14 points for ICS, and afterward, Barney had lots of nice things to say about the Lions.
"I just thought those guys had a great game plan and executed it well," said Barney. "We're lucky to come out ahead."