SOUTH JORDAN — Davis’ boys basketball team probably won’t play in front of a more rowdy, passionate crowd than what it experienced at Bingham High School on Friday.
That’s what made escaping with a 60-56 victory and improving to 5-0 this preseason so impressive.
Bingham’s students were rocking in pregame warm-ups and never let up, particularly in the final minute when players on both teams were clanking important free throws left and right. Despite the deafening environment that contributed to the Darts’ 4-of-8 shooting at the line the final 49 seconds, they made just enough to survive.
“Any way you cut it, this is going to be a good game for us, and it would’ve been, despite the outcome, a good experience going into region play,” said Davis coach Jay Welk. “Their students are very lively.”
Outside of the foul-line struggles, Davis showed the type of poise down the stretch you’d expect from the second-ranked team in 5A.
Down 55-50 with 3:03 remaining after Bingham big man Brandon Morley drained a 3-pointer — the Miners’ lone triple of the game — Davis’ perfect record seemed in serious jeopardy. To their credit, the Darts never panicked.
Sophomore Jesse Wade sank back-to-back 3-pointers over the next minute to put Davis back in front 56-55. They were his third and fourth treys of the game, as Davis finished 9 of 20 from long range compared to just 1 of 14 by the home team.
“The thing I like is they’re not afraid to take them. They’re big shots. Those aren’t shots where you’re up 20 — you’re down two and they’re hitting big shots. Those types of experiences are invaluable to us in the preseason,” said Welk.
Just as impressive was the Darts’ defensive presence late in the game. In Bingham’s final eight possessions after going ahead 55-50, Davis forced four turnovers and two missed shots. Braden Koelliker’s defense, in particular, was superb.
With Davis leading 57-56, he came up with a big steal and then on Bingham’s next possession blocked a game-tying shot attempt with six seconds remaining.
Zac Fuller finally iced the game by making both free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining.
“Those are the best kind of games. I think everyone wants those kinds of games — loud crowd, close game,” said Abel Porter, who led Davis with 19 points and four 3-pointers.
Wade added 15 points, with Koelliker chipping in with 13.
Behind great interior play on both ends from 7-footer Morley, Bingham was in control throughout the first half and deep into the third quarter. Morley had 10 points and 11 rebounds at the half and finished with 17 and 15 before fouling out with 55 seconds remaining.
Davis never let the deficit get out of hand though, always staying within striking distance. It eventually took its first lead since the opening minute of the game on a Porter 3-pointer with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Over the final 10-plus minutes there were 10 lead changes and five ties — intensity that both teams should no doubt benefit from in region play.
Porter said it’s important Davis doesn’t get too caught up with its perfect start.
“We feel good, but we’re not satisfied. We’re never satisfied. We’re just going to keep looking onto the next game. That one is behind us,” he said.