In what was the biggest game of the year so far, Uintah let its smallest players carry the Utes into the 3A boys semifinals.
Chris Busch, a sophomore generously listed as 5-10 in the program, hit two clutch layups in the game's final 30 seconds as Uintah pulled out a dramatic 58-57 victory over Pine View.Busch broke a 54-54 tie with 30 second left when he hit an acrobatic double-pump layup and then hit the game winner with less than a second to play on a nearly identical shot.
"I saw that big number 50 (6-foot-6 center Ryan Eves) coming at me, and I knew I had to do something with it just to get the shot off," Busch said after a wild on-court celebration. "So I jacked it around a bit, and it went in."
Busch, and fellow "big man" Brett Boren - listed as 5-6 in the program - proved to be the most effective inside players the Utes had against the Panthers. Boren scored 15 points including a flurry of three consecutive layups in the second quarter to help Uintah stake control of the game.
"Those guys are probably our best rebounders," Uintah coach John Nielsen said. "Those guys are tough, and they have no sense of fear when they're out there."
That fearlessness came in handy with the game on the line.
Pine View went ahead on a bizarre three-point play with 10 seconds left. Chris Brockman drove for the tieing basket and Ute forward Jeremy Pierce was called for a foul on the inbound play. A made free throw by Pine View's Ryan Bale set up Busch's heroics.
"We spend 30 minutes every day working on fast breaks," Nielson said. "We've got people that go to certain spots and that's exactly what happened. Chris went to his spot, and we found him for the shot."
Pine View was led by Eves who scored 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Thanks to Boren's layup spree, the Utes held a 30-23 halftime advantage but saw it quickly disappear as Eves took control of the paint.
Eves and Wyatt Garrett sparked a rally that saw the Panthers erase the Ute lead and even 47-38 only seconds into the fourth quarter. But a pair of buckets from Boren halted the Panther rally, and the Utes held on to make the big plays in the end.
Trevor Richins tossed in 14 points for Uintah while also grabbing 14 rebounds. Pierce has 13 points and 10 boards.
Bear River 73, Dixie 62: Despite a 26-point effort from Flyer guard Coty Bundy, the Bears beat Dixie to earn a trip to the semifinals.
Kevin Asay scored 18 points to lead Bear River, while Chris Huber and Ryan Webb added 16 and 15 respectively. The Bears hit 9-of-17 three pointers in the game to provide the difference in an otherwise close game.
In other 3A boys semifinal action:
LEHI 52, RICHFIELD 49: Paced by 15 points from Braden Cooper, the Pioneers eeked out a tough win over the Wildcats.
Rich-field took advantage of 19-of-23 free throw shooting to stay in the game, but top-ranked Lehi's 54-percent shooting night was more than Nick Luekenga's 17-point night could overcome.
EMERY 57, GRANITE 54: Matt Nelson scored 22 points and the Pitchforth Brothers - Clint and Cole - combined for 14 points and 27 rebounds to hold off the Farmers. Granite got 20 points from Kenyon Rodgers but couldn't overcome 11 missed free throws.