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SALT LAKE CITY — When East High's Parker Van Dyke was whistled for a technical foul late in the fourth quarter Tuesday, both figuratively and literally, Dain Murdock's job was done for the night.
Bountiful's defensive specialist had effectively harassed East's leading scorer all night, and with 2:07 left in the game Van Dyke let his frustration out on the ref.
By that point, Bountiful was well on its way to a 59-32 victory, but the technical foul was a microcosm of the entire game for the Leopards — frustrating.
Bountiful's suffocating defense forced the gun-shy Leopards into 19 turnovers and limited Van Dyke to just 11 points, a whopping 14 points below his season average.
"The main goal was every time he got the ball to double him, stay in front of him, don't foul, get in his head. Do whatever we could," said Murdock, who was subbed out after Van Dyke's technical foul.
Defensively, Murdock shadowed Van Dyke the entire night whether he had the ball or not. When Van Dyke did get the ball, a double team always quickly followed. Despite opportunities to take advantage of the double team, East's offense rarely found the open man. And when they did, the Leopards only shot 31 percent from the field.
With the victory, Bountiful remained perfect in Region 6 at 7-0 and only needs one more victory to claim at least a share of the region title, with Highland trailing the Braves by two games.
"Coming in, we knew if we win this game, win the game on Friday and we take region. This one meant a lot 'cause we really want region," said Bountiful's Brock Yates, who led all scorers with 19 points.
In the previous meeting between these teams, Bountiful trailed by seven at the half before rallying for the 54-45 victory. Getting off to a better start in the rematch was the Braves' hope, but it wasn't until the final minute of the first half that they started to pull away.
Thanks to seven offensive rebounds and eight second-chance points in the first half, East only trailed 19-14 with a minute remaining in the first half..
Bountiful's Brit Harding, who finished with 18 points, closed the half with five straight points, including a tip-in at the buzzer to give the Braves a 24-14 lead at intermission.
Things got out of hand quickly in the second half. The Braves opened the third quarter on a 13-3 run and maintained the 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Bountiful's defense didn't let up in the fourth quarter, either, as East finished with a season-low 32 points.
"This is a huge win 'cause it's on the road. Coach says you win region championships by winning on the road," said Murdock.
Region championships are also won by playing great defense. Bountiful has held its past three opponents to 27, 36 and 32 points, respectively.