PAYSON — The Mountain View Bruins knew that to have any shot at making the state playoffs later this month, they had to beat the team sitting right in front of them in Region 7's fourth spot — the Payson Lions.

With a ferocious defensive effort Thursday night, the Bruins did exactly that — coming from nine points behind to hand the Lions a 59-45 defeat. Mountain View's league record is now 4-6, and only a half-game behind Payson's 4-5 mark.

"This was a nice win for us and a win we had to have," Mountain View coach Jeff Gardner said. "After blowing a big lead on Tuesday, the kids didn't quit and came out tonight and fought pretty hard. They showed that they wanted this one."

The Bruins, who have struggled this season to finish strong, saved their best basketball Thursday night for the final two quarters. It was a defensive stand that forced the Lions into 21 turnovers and allowed them only 18 second-half points that really got the job done. The Bruins did a masterful job of keeping the ball away from Payson's big inside threat Seth Lovell, who scored 15 hard-earned points but none in Mountain View's huge third quarter.

"These guys understand defense and I thought they really did what we wanted them to do in the second half," Gardner said.

Both teams had their careless moments with the ball in the first half. By being a touch more efficient in the paint and with a little more firepower from outside, the Lions led for most of the first half. In fact, when Chad Marvin converted a 2-and-1 and then sank a 3-pointer from up top, Payson led 25-16. But the Bruins didn't wait until the second half to begin their comeback. By finishing the half on a 7-2 run, Mountain View cut the score to 27-23.

However, the Bruins came out in the second half with fire in their eyes and scored the first 12 points of the third period. Cameron Schmidt started the run with a 3-pointer and the other four starters each chipped in a basket. Payson, which had more turnovers in the third than shots, didn't score in the period until Jake Hiatt's two free throws with 2:24 remaining. But when Greg May came right back with a running banker for a 2-and-1 the Bruins went up 38-29.

Still, when Russell Ellsworth canned a trey at the buzzer for Payson the Lions went into the fourth trailing only 42-34. But in that final frame the Bruins continued their inside punishment of the Lions. Mountain View also got Payson in foul trouble and lived at the line for most of the fourth quarter. When May sank two free throws early in the period Mountain View led 49-36. The closest Payson got from there was 10. The Bruins maintained their comfortable margin by sinking eight of eight from the charity stripe in the final four minutes.

Mountain View finished with three players in double figures, led by Schmidt and Jake Wanamaker with 14 each and May with 11. Lovell was the only Lion to score in double digits.

E-mail: [email protected]