Pleasant Grove hung on and kept to its plan, outlasting a fevered push from Lone Peak's TJ Haws and Frank Jackson with just minutes left in the game to give Lone Peak its first region loss this year 78-72, and put the Vikings in contention for the region title.
This is the game that would define the rivalry and the strategy of each team. On this night, history and intimidation would give way to desire, drive and great free-throw shooting. Pleasant Grove scored 12 points from the charity line. The last four came from the steady hands of senior Matt Conway to ice the game with just 16 seconds remaining.
Pleasant Grove head coach Randy McAllister said, "We have a very dedicated senior-laden team that has been on the court long enough to know not to get caught up in the buzz of the game and stick to the plan."
The main gym at Pleasant Grove High School began to fill early for this highly anticipated game pitting No. 1 Lone Peak vs. No. 2 Pleasant Grove. As the starting time got closer, the tension became palpable and the fans got loud.
The first period was tight as both teams could not break away from the other. Lone Peak's Haws was casting from outside the arc but few fell his way. He ended the period with 10 points, but both teams were tied at 18 apiece. During the second period, Lone Peak put pressure on the Vikings and took them out of their game plan. The Vikings were held to 11 points while Lone Peak scored 17, ending the half 35-29 for the Knights.
The second half, the Vikings came out on the court and played the rest of the game according to "how they had practiced this week," McAllister said. "In the first half, we played little defense and did not take care of the ball."
The Vikings' Conway found a way to break free of the defenders covering him and the guards were able to get the ball to him as he scored 11 points in the third period, helping the Vikings come back to within two points, 55-57, at the end of the third period.
At the break between periods and during the flow of the game, along with the intensity of the game increasing, the noise level was also getting to where dust on the rafters was starting to shake. Pleasant Grove's sixth man was jumping and shuffling, and the Vikings were making their presence known.
Pleasant Grove senior Mark Sheffield hit the first field goal of the last period and tied the game. At that point, the Vikings started taking control of the game and put the Knights in charge of their own future. At one point, Lone Peak stole the ball and went down and scored, making it a three-point difference.
Pleasant Grove senior guard Forrest Pincock brought the ball down and calmly drilled a 25-foot trey, pushing the game just out of reach. "What a clutch shot. I don't think I have ever been in such a deep dark place in my life until Forrest hit that shot," McAllister said. "I give the momentum change completely to him, and that carried us the rest of the way." The Viking defense held Lone Peak to just 15 points during the last period, winning 78-72.
For Lone Peak, Haws was the high scorer with 23 points, including five treys. Jackson was next with 20 points and senior Zach Frampton added 17.
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Pleasant Grove's high man was also the high scorer for the game. Conway scored 26 points, including 11 from the foul line. Junior Riley Court scored 17 points and Sheffield added 15 points plus 10 rebounds. "One of the big changes was that in the first half we had 12 turnovers and only four in the second half," McAllister said.
Lone Peak now has an overall record of 16-3 with an 8-1 record in region. It will host Riverton on Tuesday evening.
Pleasant Grove has an overall record of 18-2 with an 8-1 record also in region. The Vikings' next two games will be on the road. They will play at Herriman and Westlake before returning home to play American Fork to finish out the season.
Kent Allen lives in Pleasant Grove and reports on Pleasant Grove High School varsity sports for Deseret Connect.