BOUNTIFUL — Riding a wave of confidence that grew from beating Highland twice last season, Bountiful did what no other team had done in nearly two months: It sent the Rams home with a loss.
Nick Williams had a game-high 21 points to help the Braves (10-2) win a 56-53 thriller over 4A's top-ranked team, ending Highland's 10-game winning streak in the process.
"Man, it just feels good to win," Williams said. "We knew we could come out and beat these guys because we'd done it before. We just had to come out and play as a team, and I think we did that."
Williams shouldered much of the offensive load as Highland's defense keyed on McKay LaSalle, who entered the game as Bountiful's top scorer. Williams hit two 3-pointers and consistently knifed his way through the defense to finish at the rim. He also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
Highland (10-2) jumped out to a 27-22 lead at the half thanks in large part to Lew Evans, who hit five 3-pointers en route to 19 points for the Rams.
"Evans was on fire," Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell said. "We just couldn't get out and get a hand up in his face fast enough."
In the end, though, Evans' hot touch wasn't enough to overcome an off night by teammate Sam Orchard. The Highland standout entered the night averaging 17.2 points per game, but finished with only two points and committed two costly turnovers in the last 30 seconds.
"Containing Orchard was huge," Maxwell said. "He's their team — he's the head of the whatever you want to call them, and we had to cut off the head and take him out of the game. We wanted to attack him on both offense and defense, and I think we did a pretty good job."
Orchard's miscues led to five free throws by LaSalle, including a trio that came after Orchard fouled him as he went up for a 3-point shot with 13.1 seconds left. Within seconds, a 53-51 Highland lead turned into a 56-53 Bountiful win.
Like Orchard, LaSalle had a rough night. He scored five points in the first quarter, hitting nothing but net on his first two shots before pesky defense from David and Steven Divver held him scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.
But that's when he won the game. John Maxwell also came up big for the Braves, scoring all nine of his points in the third quarter.