OREM — Eight of the best teams in the western region gathered to compete in the Great Western Shootout, with West Jordan standing tallest at the end. It capped off the three-day tournament with three wins, taking out Orem for the championship 78-71.
Most people anticipated a West Jordan vs. Lone Peak final game, but Orem ruined those plans, taking out Lone Peak in the semifinals. West Jordan, meanwhile, cruised to the final game relatively unchallenged with consecutive double-digit wins against Nevada's Canyon Springs and then against Davis.
The Tigers did well in taking the Jaguars out of cruise control, however, fighting until the very end.
"That's a great team right there," said Jaguars' star Jordan Loveridge about Orem. "They gave us a great game, but we were fortunate to get a win. It was a team effort and we're very excited to have gone up against the quality teams we did and come out on top."
The game was competitive from the start, Orem scoring the first four points of the game before West Jordan stormed back with nine straight points of its own. Loveridge announced his presence early with a driving dunk out of a half-court set for the Jaguars' first points of the game.
West Jordan took a 32-29 lead into the half with Loveridge leading the way with 14 points and Zach Hunsaker leading the way for Orem with 10 of his own.
The Jaguars hit their stride during the third quarter, however, building a 61-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Orem wouldn't go away.
"Orem played like they deserved to be there and they did deserve to be there," said guard Jordan Pryor. "They kept coming at us and they played really well."
The Tigers chipped away West Jordan's lead primarily by trading two-point baskets made by the Jaguars with 3-point baskets of their own. Overall, they finished the fourth quarter with five buckets from behind the arc.
The closest they got was within three points at 70-67 after a Dalton Nixon 3-pointer with 1:27 left and then at 73-70 with 58 seconds left after a 3-point basket by Cooper Holt. Both buckets were answered by Pryor, however, accounting a three-point play and then two free throws.
Overall Pryor finished with 19 points and four 3-point baskets. Jaden Jackson added 12 points with Seth Barrus chipping in 10. Orem was led by Hunsaker's 23 points and four 3-pointers with Nixon and Holt scoring 13 points a piece.
"We have guys on this team that can hit all kinds of shots, so it's not just me — not by a long shot," said Loveridge who led all scorers with 31 points. "It was a great team effort tonight, and it was that way throughout the tournament and it's always that way. We have great players on this team and I'm lucky to be a part of this team."
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