PAYSON — What was a nail-biter heading into the fourth quarter ended up being a solid victory for Provo's boys basketball team.
Down the stretch, the Bulldogs ratcheted up their defensive pressure and made plays at the offensive end of the floor to open their 2012-'13 campaign with a 40-30 road victory over Payson Tuesday night.
A season ago, Payson won the Region 12 championship in 3A, while Provo finished second in Class 4A's Region 8. The Bulldogs ultimately advanced to the 4A semifinals in 2011-'12, and now, legendary Provo coach Craig Drury hopes this year's squad can rise to the level of last year's successful squad.
“Last year we were pretty good," said Drury. "I’m just trying to get these guys into the same category as the last team was."
It's still very, very early, but so far so good.
Provo succeeded against Payson by producing an incredible defensive showing. Payson was known last year for its potent offense, which was due in large part to senior guards Clint Bateman and Tanner Newbold. Payson managed only 30 points against the Bulldogs, however.
Provo raced out to a nice lead, and really put the pressure on the Lions to make plays offensively. Provo is a very long team, and that length prevented Payson from easily getting into its offense.
Taking an 11-7 lead into the second quarter, the Bulldogs gave up a 5-0 run, which was initiated by Payson sophomore guard Brycen Wood. He looked to be a very bright spot for Payson fans; he played hard, kept his head up, distributed the ball very well and knocked down a couple shots as well.
Provo took an 18-16 lead into halftime behind a buzzer-beating floater from junior guard Wesley Bosco.
Tuesday's game got tied up at 19 with 5:00 left in the third, but Provo grabbed a 2-point lead and didn’t look back. The Bulldogs pushed the ball hard on the offensive end, and made Payson commit a lot of fouls. Defensively, the Bulldogs picked up their effort and really disrupted the flow to Payson’s offense.
The game got a little heated toward the end, as both teams started fouling more on defense. Payson had plenty of opportunities to make a run, but kept committing offensive turnovers while losing rebounds on the defensive end.
Bosco scored 14 points to lead Provo offensively and Cole Gordon added 11 points. Bosco also had four assists and two steals, while Jordan Maw contributed six rebounds and three steals.
Spencer Durrant is a senior at Payson High School. He loves the outdoors, especially fishing and camping. He hopes to one day be a sports writer for the Utah Jazz. Follow him on Twitter, @Spencer_Durrant