I knew I had to get in there. I have confidence in my teammates hitting free throws, but I knew I had to get in there. It could’ve meant the game if I didn’t get that rebound. —Maliik Fagan-Foster
CEDAR CITY — Maliik Fagan-Foster did his best Willis Reed heroic impersonation on Friday night in the 3A semifinal at Southern Utah.
Late in the game he went crashing into press row to try and save a loose, and immediately limped to the bench in obvious pain. While he lay on the floor being looked at by trainers, underdog Canyon View drained a 3-pointer with 8.5 seconds remaining to trim Juan Diego’s once double-digit lead to just two.
Fagan-Foster came hobbling back into the game, and it’s a good thing he did. When teammate Avery Ames missed the front end of a one-and-one, Fagan-Foster corralled the offensive rebound and was immediately fouled himself.
He calmly buried both free throws to ice Juan Diego’s surprisingly defensive 47-43 victory over Canyon View.
“I knew I had to get in there. I have confidence in my teammates hitting free throws, but I knew I had to get in there. It could’ve meant the game if I didn’t get that rebound,” said Fagan-Foster, who led all scorers with 18 points.
Midway through the third quarter it looked as if Juan Diego was going to coast to the victory up 10, but that’s when Canyon View started knocking down big shot after big shot.
Following a Soaring Eagle turnover, Johnson drained another three cutting the lead to 41-40 much to the delight of the Canyon View-partisan crowd with 1:05 remaining.
Juan Diego coach Drew Trost could sense his players getting tight.
“Our stall that’s been great all year all of a sudden gets a little iffy, kids get a little nervous, the crowd gets loud, you hit a cheerleader with a pass,” he said.
With three fouls to give before it could send Juan Diego to the free throw line, Canyon View fouled quickly on the first two. On the third, Juan Diego drew up a play that had Fagan-Foster moving toward the basket. He caught the inbounds pass, scored at the rim and was fouled in the process, converting the 3-point play to extend the lead to 44-40 with 32 seconds remaining.
He hit another free throw to stretch the lead to 45-40 with 15 seconds left, but again Canyon View wasn’t prepared to go quietly.
Brantzen Blackner, who Juan Diego had bottled up most of the game, drained a baseline 3-pointer with 8.5 seconds remaining to make it a 45-43 game.
After the game Trost had nothing but high praise for Canyon View, which held the Soaring Eagle roughly 20 points below their season average.
“They do an awesome job in that zone of really covering up their weakness of being small. We thought we’d really be able to take advantage of them inside, that wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be,” he said.
In the loss, Xavier Stoker led Canyon View with 12 points, with Johnson finishing with 10 on three 3-pointers.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: email@example.com