RICHFIELD — The ICS Lions were entitled to a few minutes of nerves in their quarterfinal game against Tabiona.
"It was definitely nerves," said ICS head coach Bodie Christiansen after the Lions came back to earn a second-round win over Tabiona, 45-44, Thursday night at the Sevier Valley Center. "It's been 16 or 17 years since we won our first-round game. And we've never beaten Tabiona. They also beat us on a buzzer-beater at their place earlier this season."
Once the Lions got warmed up, the contest was a thriller.
The Lions were led by sophomore Zack Paige, who finished with 19 points, but it was his lone 3-point shot that really helped swing the momentum in favor of his team.
"This is his first year playing with us," said Christiansen.
Senior Wes Poulsen added 10 points, while Jarred Engelholm finished with nine points. Engelholm's clutch free-throw shooting was critical as the Lions fought to stay a point or two ahead of the Tabiona.
Christiansen said the best finish the Lions have ever earned is third place. He credits his senior captains, Poulsen and Josh Mylar, for leading the team to success in the tournament for the first time in a decade and a half.
"It's all a mentality," he said of how they rally other players. "They just believe in one and other. They all compete, and they trust each other. We don't have any stars. We just have five guys out there playing together, playing had."
As for the victory, Christiansen grinned.
""This is huge," he said. "It's incredibly exciting."
The win means ICS will face Liahona in the semifinals tonight.
The loss means Tabiona will move to the consolation bracket, where they will take on Monticello.