SANDY — It was a game of runs. It was a battle of surges.
Back and forth like a ship on the treacherous ocean waters. But at the end of the day, Highland was able to make the biggest final push to capsize Alta 56-45 at Alta Monday night.
The Rams came out leaving not a single bullet in the chamber — gunning with insane efficiency from all areas on the floor to take an early 8-0 advantage at the 5:08 mark in the first quarter, six points coming from back-to-back treys from Lew Evans to force a quick time out from Alta.
Evans finished with 14 points and four 3-pointers.
"He hit some shots, and he got some open looks. The thing I liked with Lew tonight was that he was alive rebounding and defensively, and when he does that the offense comes for him," said Highland coach Keith West. "I thought he did some really nice things tonight. When they put pressure he was able to get the ball and not get crazy. I thought Lew played a really nice game."
However, Alta closed out the remaining minutes on a 9-5 run to trail by four points leading into the second quarter.
Once again, Highland extended the lead early in the second quarter to a comfortable 21-12 margin with little time remaining until halftime. But like clockwork the Hawks would respond again with three pointers from Jackson Berry and Jarett Anderson to erode the lead to three at the break.
"My kids kind of made a couple of mistakes and wanted to play — but I didn't want them to play," stated West. "(I wanted) them to hold the ball and get the last shot and in the second half, we'll go back to full strength and we gave them six quick points. It cut the momentum at the half."
Alta drew within two points at 26-24 midway through the third quarter before the Rams embarked on their biggest run of the game.
Just like that, Highland had stretched the lead to 37-24.1 comment on this story
"We came out there and got a great run to start the half. I liked the way we came out," said West. "They went to a couple different zones and we nailed and busted every one of them. We got good shots."
The lead proved insurmountable in the long run. Highland relied on Sam Orchard to close out the game at the charity stripe. The senior scored eight out of the last 10 points for the Rams, six of which came from the free throw line. Orchard finished with a game-high 18 points.
"He always is," stated West when asked what he thought of Orchard's clutch free throw shooting, "He's mad because he missed one. That's the first one that he missed all year so he's disappointed."