OREM The difference in quality possessions usually determines the outcome of high school basketball games.
In Provo's 55-48 Region 7 win Tuesday over the wounded Orem Tigers, the Bulldogs' string of possessions to start the fourth quarter was the main difference in the game. With the game tied 31-31, Provo scored five straight times down the floor, while allowing Orem only one point during that same span to take a 40-32 lead a margin comfortable enough to carry the Bulldogs to victory.
"Defensively, I thought we had some breakdowns in that we were trying to help and trying to steal," Provo coach Craig Drury said. "But overall, we played a good defensive game."
Another huge statistic was Orem's 3-point shooting. The Tigers, a team that depends greatly on long-range shooting, made only one of 12 from behind the arc and that lone make came late when the game was pretty much decided.
"Teams that are shooting poorly generally have guys in their face. And we were there," Drury said.
The Tigers, after learning earlier in the day that they had one less win, stayed in game despite falling behind in the second quarter by eight points. Even with its poor shooting, Orem didn't let Provo pull any farther away by pulling down 11 offensive boards in the first half and scoring several times on put-back baskets.
Orem also played the entire first half without 6-foot-10 center Ian Harward, who missed the last game and all week of practice with severe back pain. When Harward came in early in the third period, the Tigers slowly clawed back and caught the Bulldogs at 24-24. In fact, thanks to two Harward baskets and his defense in the paint, the game was tight the rest of the period with the score tied four times in the frame and four lead changes.
"I knew they'd come out emotional, and they did. I was hoping the emotion would turn against them, but they played very solid for most of the game," Drury said.
The pain eventually was too much for Harward and he returned to the bench for the fourth period. That's when Orem didn't play so solid, and Provo did.
First, Kyle Collinsworth was fouled after beating his man to the basket, and his two free throws put the Bulldogs up 33-31. William Isom then followed with an easy layup to make it 35-31. After an Orem turnover, Brandon Davies took an inside feed and banked in an easy shot to give Provo a 37-31 lead. A foul shot by Collinsworth put the score at 38-31.
Goose Kallunki ended Orem's drought with one of two free throws, but Davies' two foul shots, after being fouled on an in-close layup try, put Provo ahead 40-32. The Tigers never got closer than five again.
"(Davies) finally went to work and got some things done," Drury said. "He got some free throws and he made some layups. I was very pleased with how he played in the later part of the game."
A big reason the Tigers were unable to catch Provo was the free-throw shooting of Scott Edwards, who made eight of eight from the line in the final three minutes.
"He almost missed one; that was as close as he came," Drury said.Kallunki finished as the game's high scorer with 23. For Provo, Edwards scored 15, while Collinsworth tossed in 14 and Davies 12.