Chaz Ah You’s football exploits came in handy on the basketball court Thursday night.
The Thunder reserve guard didn’t do much offensively in his 16 minutes on the floor, but he had two clutch steals defensively — one at the end of regulation and the other late in overtime — as Westlake survived a defensive slugfest with Brighton 54-48 in Thursday’s 5A quarterfinal at the Huntsman Center.
“He’s a big-time football player and those were a couple of real big plays. Shot the gap, beat a guy to the ball. Big-time player, he made a big-time play. Big time athlete,” said Westlake coach Nate Carling.
Ah You’s first steal came with 30 seconds left in regulation and with Westlake trailing 44-43. He was immediately fouled at midcourt, and made 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game — where the score remained after Westlake missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
In overtime, he made another huge defensive play at midcourt.
After Westlake missed two free throws with 32.5 seconds remaining, which kept its lead at one possession, 48-45, Ah You trusted his instincts for the game-clinching steal.
“We talked about how they were going to get Simi (Fehoko) the ball all the time. I could tell from the way he was positioning himself he was going to flash again so I kind of read it and jumped it, felt like I was a DB out there,” he said.
He was immediately fouled after the steal with 16 seconds remaining, draining both to clinch the victory.
“He’s not one to step to that line with the whole student body looking at him to back down. He thrives in those type of situations. You just see the confidence in him,” said Carling.
With the victory, Westlake advances to Friday’s semifinals and will face Copper Hills at 5:50 p.m.
The rebounding was equally as important.
Like everyone else at the Dee Events Center for Tuesday’s 5A first round, Carling saw firsthand how Brighton can take over a game with its athleticism and playmaking offensively.
He knew for the Thunder to have a chance in Thursday’s quarterfinals, they had to figure a way to disrupt what the Bengals like to do offensively. In Brighton’s first-round win against Davis it enjoyed a 42-26 edge in the paint.
Westlake made Brighton work much harder for its points in the quarterfinals as it only scored 18 in the paint. It struggled from the perimeter as well making just 3 of 13 3-pointers.
Despite all of that, the Bengals looked like they would eke out the victory.Comment on this story
Down 41-38 with 3:32 left in the game, they went on a 6-0 run over the next two minutes to go ahead 44-41. The Bengals had a chance to add to the lead but missed consecutive easy layups with one minute remaining.
Those misses gave Westlake life to fight and send the game into overtime.
“Fortunate to get back and tie it up and send it to overtime. I thought in overtime we really took it to them and were a really aggressive confident group in that overtime,” said Carling.
James Edward is the Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org