OGDEN — All season, Bountiful point guard Dillon Salazar has done whatever his team needed.
Mostly it's just been running the offense and letting the scorers do their thing. In the state tournament, Salazar has become the scorer.
With his team needing a spark midway through the fourth quarter of Friday's 4A semifinal against Woods Cross, Salazar took the game over, scoring five points in a span of 45 seconds, and the Braves never looked back en route to an impressive 62-52 victory at the Dee Events Center.
"Dillon Salazar was the guy tonight again," said Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell. "If they're going to play out like that, he's going to turn the corner and he's lightning quick and he can finish."
Coming into the state tournament, Salazar had scored in double figures just twice in 21 games. In a first-round upset victory over Timpview, Salazar scored a team-high 17 points, and on Friday he scored 16 for the Braves.
None were bigger than the five he scored in the fourth quarter.
Bountiful beat Woods Cross twice during region play, but as is usually the case, a third meeting in the state tournament tends to be closer.
Neither team led by more than six, and with 3:59 remaining in the game Bountiful was clinging to a 43-42 lead. The Braves' lead was four a minute earlier when Salazar picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench.
After seeing his team come up empty on back-to-back possessions with Salazar resting, Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell had seen enough.
"I just didn't want him to get that fifth foul, but I needed his leadership. He's the guy who leads us," said Maxwell.
Salazar quickly extended the lead to 46-42 with a driving lay-up and free throw with 3:48 remaining. Following a Woods Cross turnover, Salazar raced to the basket for another easy lay-up to put the Braves ahead 48-42.
Led by Salazar, Bountiful ended the game on a 19-10 run.
"It's my role when it's open, I go for it. When it's not, then I get the others open and we go from there," said Salazar.
Bountiful struggled with turnovers early, committing nine in the first half, but it settled down after halftime and only finished with 11 for the game. Maxwell wasn't the least bit surprised.
"It's composure down the stretch, and I think that's the trademark of our region — our team particularly," said Maxwell.
After its thrilling quarterfinal victory over Olympus, Woods Cross looked poised to perhaps upset another Region 6 foe in the semifinals.
A night after Austin Bankowski scored 32 points to lead the Wildcats, he scored a team-high 16 in the semifinals, but Maxwell believes he wore down in crunch time.
"The guys who won the game are my centers (Dan Prawitt, Jordan Parkinson and Brock Yates). Just knocking Bankowksi, working Bankowski, he couldn't get touches on the block. Very rarely did he get a ball down inside, he had to work for everything he got," said Maxwell. "By the fourth quarter, he was toast. That makes a big difference in the game, when you can take their best player and work him so hard he doesn't become a factor."
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