High school basketball: Pioneers win battle of Utah Lake

By Tracy Wilson

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Feb. 18 2011 10:47 p.m. MST

LEHI — Lehi High School honored its seniors in the final home game of the 2011 basketball season, as they stopped cross-lake rival Westlake, 73-66, in a hard-fought battle that was a lot closer than the Pioneers expected.

It came down to foul shooting for the home team after the Thunder moved within six points of the Pioneers at 70-64 with 1:36 remaining in the contest on a 3-point shot by Thomas Larsen, his fourth of the game. Westlake scored 25 points in the final stanza to 16 for the Pioneers.

Pioneer coach Craig Gladwell was pleased with the outcome of the rivalry game but had to get his charges to settle down at the end to pull out the win with patience and discipline. He was proud of his players, only four of whom are seniors.

Ryan Christofferson, a junior, wanted the ball in crunch time when the game got close at the end. He was able to make 3-of-4 from the charity stripe in the final minute to finish with 25 points, while the Thunder could earn only two points by Larsen on free throws. Westlake’s small guards, 5-foot-2 senior Semi Taeoali’i and 5-foot-3 junior Spencer Brown, tried desperately to keep the ball out of Christofferson’s hands, only to send him to the foul line where he made 8-of-10.

“We wanted to win this one for our seniors,” Christofferson said.

Pioneer senior Dustin Draeger also ended up with 25 points, including six 3-pointers, four in the first half.

“Our teammates passed the ball with precision and got me and Ryan the open shots,” the 6-2 forward commented.

Larsen finished the game with 20 points. Mana Niu, Westlake’s other senior forward, was consistent through three quarters and ended the contest with 18 points.

Westlake has wrapped up its league play with a 3-9 (7-14) record and now waits to see if it can make the state tournament as the sixth-place team from Region 7. Only Provo is below Westlake.

Lehi has Mountain View left on its schedule next Wednesday at the Bruins' den. The Pioneers are 8-3 in league play, while Mountain View and Orem are both 5-6 since Orem beat the Bruins last night.

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