RICHFIELD — If there was a theme to Thursday night's quarterfinals game between Wayne and Liahona's boys' basketball teams, it was turning weaknesses into strengths.
Wayne hit 10 free throws in the final 21/2 minutes to help cement a 70-57 win over the Liahona's Warriors at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
The win sends Wayne to the semifinal game against Bryce Valley on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The game started with Liahona boys commanding an early edge, as Brigg Savage, Carson Smith and Tyler Berry each put up five points in the first eight minutes. It helped lift Liahona to an 18-9 lead.
"I told them to fulfill their roles and let it happen," said Wayne coach Kade Morrel. He said the Badgers did exactly what they were told by climbing back out of the hole, and sticking with runs.
The second period saw Wayne's boys cut the lead down to two with a 10-point jaunt, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by Ty Rees and Drayston Nelson.
Liahona's Berry hit a trey, followed by an inside shot from Carson Smith to bring the lead back to 29-23.
Wayne then went on another 10-point excursion, as Rees hit another trey. Nelson and Brock Taylor also hit shots. Taylor Albrecht completed the run with a 3-pointer of his own, ending the half with a 33-29 edge for the Badgers. The shot set the mood for the rest of the night for Albrecht.
"We kind of started off slow," Albrecht said. "Our intensity on defense brought us back into this game."
Coming back from the break, Liahona's Collin Rudd put the rock in the hole, bringing the game back down to a two-point affair. The teams took turns scoring in the third period, until Rudd and teammates Savage and Weston Meacham each scored points in a six-point scramble, which knotted the game at 43-all with 35 seconds left in the period.
Zack Taylor hit a free throw for Wayne, giving the Badgers the go-ahead point. Rees drew a foul on a 3-point shot. He converted the extra point, building a 48-43 cushion for the Badgers as the final quarter began.
Rudd again started off scoring in the final period, but was answered in turn when Wayne's Nelson got ahold of the ball for another bucket.
Savage scored again, keeping the game within three points. Later on, the Badgers went on a 12-point run, with shots from the floor and foul line by Albrecht. Rees and Nelson also contributed to the streak, which put Wayne up 66-51 with less than a minute to go.
Smith drained a downtowner for Liahona, followed by a three-point play converted by Meacham, but perfect foul shooting in the final period kept Wayne well out of the danger zone.
"It's something we struggled with early in the season," Albrecht said of the team's foul shooting. "We really worked on it … that practice paid off."
Rees led Wayne's offense with 25 points, followed by Albrecht with 22. Nelson posted 13 in the effort.
Liahona offered up a balanced scoring attack led by Smith with 12, Savage and Meacham with 11 each, and for each for Rudd and Berry.
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