RICHFIELD — In trying to beat a team that had defeated them twice this season, the Parowan Rams decided to try something new.
“We decided to do something different defensively, and it wasn’t going how we wanted it to, so we went back to what we know,” said Parowan head coach Lance Stubbs after the Rams beat Wayne 48-33 in the 1A quarterfinals Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center. “We played our man and it went pretty well.” As soon as the Rams went back to their man-to-man defense, the energy level increased significantly and the momentum began to shift in Parowan’s favor.
“It just wasn’t working for us,” he said. “Too may holes. But these kids played their guts out and defense is what won it today.”
The Rams' defense completely turned the game in their favor. The game was almost even in the first half with the Rams leading 16-15 at the break.
“We knew it was going to be a grind,” Stubbs said. “We know these guys well. And they beat us twice this year. They’re a really good team.”
Wayne’s leading scorer, Zane Taylor, had eight points in the first half, but he managed just one more point in the second half thanks to the defensive effort of the Rams.
“He’s a really nice player,” Stubbs said. “And we knew we needed to keep him off the boards. He hurt us a little bit with that, but we got it together and pulled through.”
The players who had to execute that defensive plan said they weren’t worried when the game was tight in the first half.
“They came out really strong,” said Trey Stubbs, who led the team’s rebounding with six. “But basketball is a game of runs. We just kept playing through it. It was a tough game, and credit to Wayne County, they played tough.”
“We knew it was going to be a battle coming,” Rowley said afterward. “That first quarter, we were both just battling.”
He said at halftime they talked about playing their game for 40 minutes.
“We talked about sticking it out the whole game,” Rowley said. “We thought it would come down to whoever wanted it worse.”
He said they knew they could win if they could slow the Badgers' offense.
“We just knew we had to get stops in order to win the game,” Rowley said. “They’re a good ball team, and we found the defense that could do that and we stuck with it. We were able to get the stops.”
The defense didn't allow any of the Badgers to score in double digits, with Taylor's nine points being the most. Landon Chappell added six points, while Nathan Dendy finished with five points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Coach Stubbs said preparing for the tournament entailed reminding his players that it isn’t flashy scoring that wins titles.
“When you get to tournaments like this, it’s the defense that wins them,” coach Stubbs said. “And that’s what we bring to the tournament. So we’ll see where defense takes us.”
Thursday’s performance will take the Rams to the semifinals, where they will play Diamond Ranch at 6 p.m. Friday.
Rich will take on Panguitch in the 7:30 p.m. semifinal.
Coach Stubbs said his team has developed mental toughness throughout the challenges of the season.
“I just got a tough bunch,” the coach said. “We’ve been through a lot this year, and we’re gritty. I know one thing, teams that play us know they’ve played a basketball game, and that’s what we want. The effort is there. We’re just real excited to be where we’re at right now.”
And the fact that they’re an unranked three seed doesn’t bother the Rams at all.
“This is great,” said Trey Stubbs, smiling. “We’re loving it. We’re set up pretty good. We’ll just play it a game at a time. We’re a young team, and we’ve come to fight.”
In the other quarterfinal games: Top-ranked Panguitch defeated Merit Academy 62-46 behind Jace Eyre's 18 points. Panguitch closed the first half on a 19-9 run. Brinler Tanner led Merit with 19 points.
Third-ranked Diamond Ranch defeated St. Joseph 68-57 in the day's final quarterfinal. The Diamondbacks were led by Bowen Sykes, who scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Tyus Millhollin added 12 points, while Dakota Steen finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.