OREM — Across the state, Mountain View didn’t have the street appeal. Despite its 11-1 record, for whatever reason, it hadn’t earned the respect it deserved.
That changed Tuesday night.
In front of a raucous home crowd, the Bruins topped 4A power Orem for the first time in two years, 47-46, and officially answered lingering questions about their legitimacy. Yes, Utah, this group can play.
“I think a lot of people haven’t really believed in us,” Mountain View coach Nate Carling said. “I think the state is going to take notice at that one. We’re contenders and we’re here to the end.”
“We haven’t beat (Orem) for two years on the varsity level and we knew that we needed to get that done,” center Carsen Williams said after finishing with a game-high 21 points. “We put everything out there and we got it done. It was amazing.”
The Bruins led the entire duration until Orem’s Dalton Nixon sank a straightaway 3-pointer with 2:42 remaining in regulation. Mountain View responded with a quick 6-2 run fueled by consecutive baskets by Williams for a 47-46 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
The Tigers (8-7) were positioned for the game-winning basket when Nixon received an entry pass out of the timeout, but instead, he surprisingly passed out to Ethen Chatterly hibernating in the corner. Chatterly's ensuing 3-pointer fell short.
“I thought (Nixon) was going to put it up,” Williams said of the sequence. “He’s a great player; he’s going to BYU, but I thought he was going to put it up. He gave it to his teammate, an unselfish move, and he didn’t put it in, thankfully.”
“Just the other night I watched him in the same scenario score the winning basket,” added Carling of Nixon. “Our philosophy coming in was: We’re going to pack it in and we’re going to make it difficult on him. It meant leaving some guys open, but that was the design. It could have backfired, but it worked.”
Nixon, who has an ability to work inside-out at 6 foot 8, still finished with a team-high 17 points with three 3-pointers, but was limited to only four points in the second half, including the lead-swinging trey. Richard Harward added nine points while Cooper Holt and Quinn Peters chipped in eight points apiece.
The Bruins captured an early seven-point lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter before Nixon accounted for six straight points to cut the deficit to 9-8. However, each time Orem clawed closer, Mountain View responded.
When the Tigers pulled even at 15-15, Williams muscled up a layup. After Nixon’s four-point play sliced the margin to one, Ryan Warner netted a corner trey as time expired in the first half. Then, to stop Orem’s 6-0 run, Williams converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 36-31 advantage.
“I don’t know what else you can ask of us? We’ve strung together a pretty good run and hopefully there’s more to come,” Carling said. “This isn’t the highlight for us, but definitely something to build on."
Mountain View attacked Orem’s stretching zone behind Warner, its squirrely point guard, who finished with nine points — all in the first half — and four assists. The Tigers strangely pulled Nixon from the paint to spearhead the three-two matchup, which then allowed Warner to penetrate and dish to Williams.
“My teammates got me good looks on the block,” Williams said. “I tried to get inside of (Nixon) and get to the rim. I guess it worked out for me. I haven’t scored too much this year — it just kind of happened.”
“That’s been our strength over the year, just guys always looking for each other and sharing the ball — playing unselfish basketball and it’s fun to coach," Carling added.
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