OREM — Clinging to just a three-point lead after three quarters of play in Lone Peak's first-round playoff game, the top-seeded Knights were looking to avoid a repeat of last year's postseason.
Roughly a year removed from its 64-61 upset loss to Viewmont in the 5A quarterfinals, Lone Peak came together in the fourth quarter with a dominant 18-2 run to outlast Mountain View 79-66 Tuesday night at the UCCU Center and advance to the 5A quarterfinals.
“A little bit, just because it was such a close game against a team that we felt like we were better than,” Talmage Gunther said when asked if it was a bit of a flashback to last year’s quarterfinals. “But I think the difference was our effort this year. Last year, we never had a stretch where we dug deep and grinded it out. We saw something inside us this year.”
The Knights got into an early rhythm and took a 10-point lead after the first quarter.
However, the Mustangs, led by star forward Jaxon Brenchley, came firing back with a 23-point second quarter to cut their deficit to just three points at the break.
“I thought Mountain Crest played really, really good tonight. I’ve seen them play several times this year, and they played really good tonight, so you’ve got to give them credit. Brenchley played really good and made it difficult,” Lone Peak coach David Evans said.
The two teams came out and continued to swap baskets in the second half as they headed to the fourth in a one-possession game.
That's when the Knights said enough was enough and locked down on defense.
Lone Peak, led by its backcourt in Talmage Gunther and Tyson Doman, heavily pressured the Mustangs up top and forced a plethora of turnovers to open up a commanding 18-2 run to start the fourth and take complete control.
“The biggest thing tonight was Tyson Doman. We had him guard Brenchley in the second half and he did a really, really good job. When people turn their backs, he’s going to be there and try to get the ball,” Evans said. “He makes things happen because he just plays so hard. I don’t know if he scored a point, but he made probably the biggest difference for us there in the second half.”
Brenchley, who dominated the first half to put the home team on their heels, had a much more difficult time in the second half as Doman really stepped up and took it upon himself to stop the scoring machine.
“Tyson just said, ‘I got him.’ On offense, he didn’t touch the ball as much, but he sacrificed that to go play as good as defense as he could on him and he did a really, really good job. My job was just to double-team on a screen and it really helped us in the fourth quarter,” Gunther said.
Lone Peak, after pulling its starters midway through the fourth, went on to win the final eight minutes by 10 points to secure the double-digit win and advance to the 5A quarterfinals.
The Knights are now set to take on second-seeded Copper Hills Thursday night at 7:30 pm at the University of Utah.
“It’s fun," star guard Frank Jackson said. "Every game is a grind and a challenge. We’ve got Copper Hills next and I’m ready to play hard. We played them last year, they’re a good team with great shooters, and we just need to stick to our defense. This is my ultimate goal right now — I’m worried about these next three games.”
Ryan Love is a full-time student and has been a part-time sportswriter for Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724