WEST VALLEY CITY — Fueled by Parker Van Dyke's game-high 30 points, East got by Springville 66-56 on Monday in a 4A tournament first-round game that was much closer than the score would indicate.
Van Dyke dominated the flow of the game, getting the Leopards out to a big lead early and then icing the game late with some clutch foul shooting.
The win gave East its first state playoff victory since 2002 when the Leopards defeated Payson, which has since been relegated to 3A.
Before four minutes were gone in the first quarter, East found itself up 15-2 and seemingly well on its way to an easy win. From that point on, the Red Devils made an 8-2 run to close out the quarter down just 17-10.
The second quarter was played on even terms, with East taking a 30-23 lead into the half.
"We got up early, but let them come back," said Van Dyke. "We played a little sluggish late in the first half and into the second half and they're a pretty good team, so they battled back."
Springville was able to battle all the way back early in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 51-51 with around five minutes remaining in the contest. Sophomore forward Max Schreiner led the way for the Red Devils, scoring 25 points — beating the Leopards' defense from both the perimeter and slashing to the hoop.
With 1:52 remaining, East found itself up just 58-56 following a team timeout. The Leopards proceeded to hold the ball until the 57.6-second mark after three team fouls by Springville put them into the bonus and Van Dyke on the foul line, where he calmly sank two free throws.
Van Dyke converted four more foul shots, with Liti Molisi converting two more in the final minute, while Springville was held scoreless.
According to Van Dyke, foul shooting is something that has been emphasized by coach Skip Lowe throughout the year.
"We pride ourselves on our foul shooting," said Van Dyke. "We always work on the little things and free-throw shooting is big."
Collecting all of the loose balls and not panicking was emphasized by Coach Lowe during the timeout at the 1:52 mark. Although it was Van Dyke leading the way, it took a complete team effort to put the Red Devils away.
"(My teammates) all played great," said Van Dyke. "I could name them all really. Liti Molisi came out and played really good (defense) on their point guard. Our big guys – Vaha Vainuku and Arik Mawien — dominated the boards, and everyone just played really good tonight."
With the victory, East will move on to play Olympus in the quarterfinals.