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WOODS CROSS — With a starting line-up that features five juniors, Woods Cross is going to go through some growing pains, which it did earlier in the week in an overtime loss to Bonneville.
Three nights later, the Wildcats made great strides both offensively and defensively to eke out a 53-52 victory over visiting Layton.
"Our kids compete hard, and they give everything they've got out there. Now we're just trying to reign them in a little bit to play smarter," said Woods Cross coach Todd Street.
The outcome could've easily gone the other way had Nick Johnson's runner at the buzzer for Layton gone in instead of caroming off the back iron.
It was another disheartening loss for Layton, which was hoping for a bounce-back victory after a similar result to Roy.
"I was really hoping to see our kids bounce back from a tough loss that we thought could've gone either way on Tuesday," said Layton coach Kelby Miller.
Layton did a lot of things right Friday, dominating the glass with 10 offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points. It forced the young Wildcats into 17 turnovers as well, but those same youngsters came up with the biggest play when they needed it most.
Trailing 52-51 with 19 seconds remaining, Skyler Farnes saw Sean Barton streaking to the basket and hit him with an alley-oop pass that Barton laid in to put the Wildcats in front 53-52.
"They had us so stagnant in their zone, we were just moving the ball and looking for openings, and Sean and Skyler made a play right there. It wasn't anything we drew up," said Street.
The Lancers missed a jumper at the other end with 6.3 seconds remaining, but when Barton missed the front end of a one-and-one, they got another chance. Woods Cross had a foul to give, and used it with 2.6 seconds remaining.
During a timeout, Street stressed with his players the importance of not getting beat over the top or back-door like in a similar game between these teams two years ago.
"Luckily we made them throw it backwards (on the inbounds pass) and not let them get anything going toward the basket, that made the difference," said Street.
Woods Cross was hot early, knocking down 8-of-10 shots to take a 23-13 lead after the first quarter. Layton switched to a zone defense in the second quarter and stormed in front 34-31 at the half.
"They weren't able to stay as hot as they were in the first quarter, and we flew around a little more defensively which I thought gave them problems. And that really got us going offensively," said Miller.
Layton maintained the slight cushion throughout most of the third quarter, but a pair of 3-pointers by Woods Cross' Brady Cowley and another by Farnes helped the Wildcats regain the 47-46 lead heading into the third quarter.
Neither team played particularly well in the fourth quarter, with the game remaining tied at 48-48 for over three minutes. Tied again at 50-50, Farnes made 1-of-2 free throws with 2:01 left to give Woods Cross the 51-50 lead. Colton Green put Layton back in front 52-51 with a driving lay-up with 1:22 remaining.
Cowley led Woods Cross with 14 points on three 3-pointers, while Kade Petersen led Layton with 12 points.
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