PROVO — When it mattered most, Lehi simply had no answer for an inspired Corbin Kaufusi.
A day after his older sister Alexis was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, the Timpview big man took the floor with an array of emotions bouncing around his head.
"The whole day was kind of a struggle for me, but she came," said Kaufusi. "I was just real happy I could perform for her."
He did more than perform, he dominated. Kaufusi racked up 23 points and 11 rebounds as Timpview overcame a late fourth-quarter deficit to rally past Lehi for the 65-57 overtime victory. The T-Birds are now one victory away from clinching the outright Region 7 championship, and Kaufusi was the catalyst on Tuesday.
Kaufusi scored nine of his game-high 23 points in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime.
"I didn't want to lose. Coach has been talking about how we hadn't won a region title in a long time, so I just thought we're a much better team than we're playing at," said Kaufusi.
In overtime, Timpview executed perfectly, scoring on its first five possessions to run away with the win. It was exactly the type of performance coach Perry Wildeboer was hoping for this time of year.
"In overtime we really controlled the game. That's been the team I've been looking for, the composure, the discipline, the patience, all those things really showed themselves in overtime," he said.
Kaufusi's older sister Alexis is a sophomore on the BYU basketball team, but she'll miss the rest of the season as she undergoes additional testing and then treatment.
As great as her little brother was down the stretch, it could have easily unfolded differently.
Already leading 51-46 with 1:51 remaining, Lehi squandered a chance to extend the lead to seven when a pass slipped through the hands of Lehi center Colton Colledge on what would've been an easy lay-up.
Timpview responded by trimming the lead to 51-48 on a Kaufusi offensive rebound putback. After Lehi missed the front end of a one-and-one, Kaufusi came up big again cutting the deficit to 51-50 on a lay-up with 46 seconds remaining.
With his team on the verge of giving the game away, Lehi's Dustin Draeger settled things down temporarily by connecting on a pair of free throws to increase the lead to 53-50 with 41 seconds left.
Kaufusi and teammate Ryan Sagers had one last heroic response.
When Timpview guard Josh Warner missed his second straight free throw with 31 ticks left on the clock, Kaufusi showed off the athleticism of his 6-foot-8 frame to collect yet another offensive rebound. Seven seconds later Sagers drained a baseline 3-pointer to level the score at 53-53 and send the Timpview student section into pandemonium.Comment on this story
Lehi's wide-open game-tying 3-pointer attempt wasn't even close. With the visitors clearly still in shock, overtime played out as everyone expected.
"You don't get second chances all the time. So when overtime comes you have to capitalize, and I think that's what our whole team realized," said Kaufusi.
For a tightly contested Region 7 showdown that featured five ties and seven lead changes in regulation, the excitement fizzled out in overtime with Timpview's dominance.
Sagers added 10 points to go along with Kaufusi's 23 to lead the T-Birds, while Zach Stanley and Colledge finished with 18 and 14 respectively.