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High school boys basketball: Play-in games necessary after Indecision Tuesday

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 23 2016 11:40 p.m. MST

SANDY — Six of the eight boys basketball regions in 5A and 4A wrapped up league play on Tuesday night, and there was no shortage of drama in all six as teams frantically tried improving their playoff fate.

For several regions, it proved to be Indecision Tuesday.

Of the six regions that came to a close, three will require a play-in game later this week for each league’s No. 4 seed for the state tournament. The other three could’ve just as easily been making similar arrangements had things unfolded a bit differently, or a new tiebreaker rule hadn’t been implemented.

Regions 3, 4 and 7 require play-in games after each had teams tie for fourth place. West Jordan and Jordan finished tied for third in Region 3, Lehi and Westlake in Region 4 and Mountain View and Timpanogos in Region 7.

West Jordan, Westlake and Mountain View would’ve all been eliminated with a loss on Tuesday, but each found a way to grind out a win.

West Jordan’s proved to be the most dramatic.

After leading most of the game, the visiting Jaguars suddenly found themselves trailing Jordan 45-41 with 2:11 remaining in the game. They ended up closing the game on an 8-0 run, forcing three Jordan turnovers in the process to secure the 49-45 win.

Jordan and West Jordan will meet again on Thursday at Bingham at 7 p.m. to determine who secures the Region 3 fourth seed. The winner faces Region 1 champion Layton in the first round of the 5A state tournament.

“We’ve been telling our guys all week, ‘everybody else’s playoffs start next week and ours start this week.’ Playoff mentality is survive and advance. Whether we were up eight or down four at the end, we just found a way to survive and we get to play again on Thursday,” said West Jordan coach Scott Briggs.

With the game tied 45-45 with under a minute remaining, Jordan seemed content to play for the last shot. West Jordan, however, wasn’t content to make it easy and applied an aggressive half-court press. It led to a turnover and then a go-ahead lay-up by Collin Larson with 20 seconds remaining.

The Jaguars forced another turnover with nine seconds remaining and Larson iced the victory with a pair of free throws at the other end.

“At the end of the day, we just didn’t to watch them hold it and go for one. We had to take a chance,” said Briggs.

In Region 4, Westlake secured its play-in game in much more convincing fashion with a 69-60 win over Herriman to finish with a 6-6 record. The only drama revolved around who the Thunder would face in the fourth-place play-in game.

Pleasant Grove and Lehi were tied for third in Region 4 heading into the finales, but considering they played each other one was guaranteed to finish in fourth place assuming Westlake won.

Matt Carty scored 23 points, with Brody Childs adding 19 as Pleasant Grove held off a second-half rally by Lehi for the 66-57 victory.

Lehi and Westlake split their season series, and they’ll square off one more time either Thursday or Friday to determine the Region 4 No. 4 seed. The winner faces Region 1 champ Weber in the 5A first round.

Region 8 unfolded very similarly to Region 7. Orem and Timpanogos were tied for third heading into the day, but Orem prevailed to secure the No. 3 seed with the 57-47 victory. With Mountain View rolling past Provo 65-48, Timpanogos suddenly found itself in a fourth-place tie with Mountain View with identical 5-7 league records.

The Region 7 play-in game will likely be held on Thursday at a neutral site. The will place Region 8 champion Maple Mountain in the first round.

In Region 8, Salem Hills and Springville also finished tied for fourth. However, because of a new tiebreaker procedure implemented this year, Salem Hills claims the No. 4 seed because it swept Springville in region play.

Region 5 might’ve had the craziest finishes of them all, even though once the dust settled there were no play-in games or coin flips required.

The three games Tuesday were decided by a minuscule four points. Woods Cross beat Bountiful 65-64, East beat Box Elder 65-63 and Highland beat Bonneville 56-55.

Woods Cross’ victory denied Bountiful a shot at defending its 4A state title, as it finished one game behind Box Elder for the fourth seed.

In Region 6, Kearns upset Murray 74-59 on the last night to deny the Spartans a share of the league title. Olympus ended up winning it outright with the 55-47 win over rival Skyline.

That victory also denied the Eagles a shot at a play-in game with Hillcrest, which claimed the Region 6 No. 4 seed and the right to face Woods Cross in the first round.

Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: jedward@deseretnews.com

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