OREM — American Fork had solidly executed its plan for 31 minutes and 50 seconds. After allowing Lone Peak’s TJ Haws to ignite offensively in the first meeting, it wasn’t about to let history repeat itself at the UCCU Center Friday evening.
The Cavemen bodied up Haws and physically challenged his every move with two to three defenders. Slowly, the Knights’ high-powered offense began to falter without Haws’ constant assistance. American Fork was 10 seconds away from finally defeating its crosstown rival.
All it took was one mental lapse and that changed. American Fork’s Ryan Andrus had just completed a successful and-one for a one-point lead when Lone Peak instinctively inbounded during the commotion before the Cavemen could locate Haws. The rest, well, is history.
Haws calmly sank two free throws after he was fouled at midcourt, and moments later the Knights preserved a 52-51 win as American Fork's desperation 3-pointer rimmed out.
“Mentality has got to be: They’re going in,” Haws said of the final two freebies. “I’ve been there before and in the gym you imagine those things: a lot of fans, down one and two free throws. It’s fun stuff.”
Haws finished with 17 points. Frank Jackson scored 18 points, and Zach Frampton finished with eight points as he dealt with foul trouble.
“Give AF credit,” Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said. “We had them on the ropes and we couldn’t knock them out. They showed some toughness, but TJ is the mentally toughest guy. To step up and make those two shots after he’s had a tough shooting game says a lot.”
Lone Peak has now won 16 of the last 17 meetings against American Fork and the win extended its in-state winning streak to 729 days.
“Did you hear how loud it got in the last couple of seconds? It’s definitely a rivalry,” Haws said when asked if the uncompetitive results have tainted the rivalry. “These games are always packed and always so much fun to play in.”
With Haws searching for an offensive rhythm, Jackson carried the load. The sophomore hit consecutive jumpers with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter to stunt American Fork’s 9-0 run and recapture the lead, 22-21.
“We knew they were going to come out ready to play,” Jackson said.
Then Jackson initiated an 8-0 run to open the third after the first half ended tied, 24-24.
“He’s a big-league player. There’s a reason BYU committed him as a sophomore,” Lewis said. “It got us in control. I felt in the first half we had chances to get up 10 or 12 and we kind of left it on the table.”
However, uncharacteristically, Lone Peak allowed the Cavemen to slowly carve into its lead, which at one point reached double digits, with rushed offensive sets, missed free throws and untimely, cheap fouls.
“No question we didn’t finish the job,” Lewis said. “We were up and we had free throws and layups and we didn’t finish it. Credit American Fork.”
Eventually, with 1:18 remaining, American Fork’s Tyler Rawson pulled his team within two, 50-48, with a strong layup before Andrus’ and-one conversion temporarily pushed the Cavemen ahead.
Andrus finished with 17 points and Rawson chipped in 14 points.
“I was telling these guys with 10 seconds left, ‘Hey, this is what we’re here for,'” Haws said. “This is why you play basketball is for these situations — enjoy it.’’
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