STANSBURY PARK – The Stansbury Stallions and the Cyprus Pirates opened their basketball seasons Wednesday night in what would turn out to be a great start to their 2012 campaigns.
The Stallions battled back from a seven-point deficit with just over three minutes to go to edge the Pirates, 48-47.
The Stallions had five players with seven points or more. Taylor Graves scored 10 points, including one of two free throws with .5 seconds remaining to give Stansbury the victory.
Ryan Robbins led the Stallions with 12 points before fouling out with 57 seconds remaining. Conner Squires scored 17 for Cyprus.
“It was really exciting,” said Graves. “We finished strong and that’s what we plan on doing all season.”
The game was tight throughout, and at the end of the first half, the score was tied at 22. Brayden Nicholes, who had a 10-point first half for Cyprus, was very quiet in the second half, scoring only two points before fouling out with 3:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Pirates gained some ground in the third quarter by riding the hot hand of Squires to take a 39-32 heading into the final quarter. Squires scored eight of his 17 points in the period.
Holding onto a 46-39 lead with just over three minutes to go, the Pirates appeared to be on their way to their first win of the season, but the Stallions turned it on. They went on a 6-1 run in a 90-second span to tie the game at 47.
In the run, Stone Tia had a put back to cut the lead to three, and Tom Griffith got the steal, went coast-to-coast, and put in a layup to cut the lead to one.
After a free throw by Squires gave the Pirates a 47-45 lead, Robbins tied the game with a layup with 1:11 to go.
The Pirates had a chance to put the game away with 57.3 left, but they missed both free throws. The Pirates grabbed the, but they were unable to make the put back layup.
Stansbury ran the clock down before almost turning it over with just under 30 seconds remaining. Graves dove for the loose ball and called time out.
After another timeout with four seconds left, the Stallions inbounded the ball to Tia. He missed the layup, but Graves grabbed the offensive rebound and drew a foul and went to the line with .6 seconds remaining. Graves hit the first and purposely missed the second, giving Cyprus the ball with just .5 seconds left.
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Tanner Barton deflected the inbounds pass after a Cyprus timeout to end the game.
“Just like we’ve always done, we brought it with defense there at the end of the game,” said Stansbury coach Ryan Harris. “We stepped up the defense rebounding, got some steals, and that was the difference in the ball game.”
The Stallions are back in action next Friday when they compete in the 2A/3A Preseason Preview. Cyprus will travel to Jordan to play the Beetdiggers next Wednesday.
CJ Pronk is a Deseret Digital Media intern and a senior at Stansbury High School.