PAYSON For one reason or another, Springville has struggled against Payson over the past four years. But thanks to a tenacious defense and a dominant performance from point guard Michael Salazar Friday night, the Devils left town with a 67-50 victory.
The most Springville trailed by all night was five points early in the first quarter after Payson hit three 3-pointers in a row to burst out to an early 11-6 lead.
But Salazar hit a running three from half court at the first-quarter buzzer to bring the game to within one. The Devils carried the momentum from the circus shot throughout the rest of the game and never looked back.
"I just wasn't in the mood to lose tonight," Salazar said. "It was kind of a mental thing where I just said lets blow this thing open."
In the second quarter the Devils pressure started to wear on Payson's guard-line and they turned the ball over several times leading to easy buckets on the other end.
By halftime Springville's defense helped them take a 32-24 lead to the locker room.
"We felt like we could pressure these guys and that is what we did," Springville head coach Chris Kitchen said. "We pressured them the whole game and our guys just did a good job of executing our game plan."
Payson fought back several times as senior big-man Seth Lovell led the Lions with a team-high 22 points.
But each time Payson tried to creep back in the game, Salazar was there to quiet the crowd.
He hit shots from behind the arc, inside the paint and in the fourth quarter he lived at the free throw line.
"I have got to give credit to my teammates," Salazar said. "I'm not going to take any of that credit. They let me bring the ball up and that gives me a lot of free throw opportunities. I have just got to thank them for trusting me."
Salazar finished with a game-high 30 points and 10 of his 15 fourth-quarter points were from the charity stripe. The senior guard also had eight assists and seven of his team's 14 steals.
"(Salazar) is great," Kitchen said. "He is the team leader, he understands the game, he knows how to lead on the court and he is cool under pressure. He is in a class all by himself."
Springville's junior center Dan Foster also got into the actscoring 13 points on the night and helping his team go 13-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
While the win brings the Devils to 4-3 in region, Salazar isn't focused on any personal honors or decisions he will have to make about his future, its all about the team."I'm not thinking about any of that," he said. "I just want to get into the tournament and try to win a state championship."