PROVO Winning the Region 7 boys basketball title is always a little sweeter for the Provo Bulldogs when it includes a season sweep over cross-town rival Timpview.
But few figured Provo's 59-50 win over the Thunderbirds on Tuesday would be as comfortable as it was. The Bulldogs never trailed, led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, by 18 at halftime, and then again by 19 early in the fourth quarter.
"Our objective is to be a state champion and you have to win every ball game to be a state champion," Provo coach Craig Drury said. "This was a good opponent, playing very motivated to win to get position for the state tournament, so it was a good chance for us to come out and play."
With a win over Springville next week Provo (11-0) can finish the Region 7 season undefeated.
"We're a very good basketball team," Drury said.
Timpview (6-4) needs to beat the Red Devils (7-3) on Friday to regain a share of second place.
Provo set the tone early by not allowing the T-Birds many decent looks at the hoop in the first two quarters. Timpview was within two at 8-6 midway through the first, but the Bulldogs then outscored the T-Birds 22-6 over the next quarter and a half to lead 30-12 at intermission. Provo center Brandon Davies carried a big part of the load by scoring 12 of his 13 points in those first two frames.
"I thought we came out in the first half and really played well," Drury said.
One thing that hurt the T-Birds in the first half was center Bronson Kaufusi's foul trouble. The big sophomore picked up his third foul with just under five minutes left in the second and headed to the bench. Drury credited guards C. J. Thornton and Chris Sorensen, filling in for injured Scott Edwards, for carrying Provo's defense early.
"I thought they stepped up defensively and did the job. I thought we made it tough for them to move the ball where they wanted to move it, and we got to their shooters well and Kaufusi caught the ball, I think, where he didn't want to catch it," Drury said.
But when Kaufusi, who scored a game-high 23, returned to the court in the second half Timpview's offense finally began to click. It also helped when Timpview's other starters came out in the third much more aggressive on offense. When Vaughn Greening scored five straight the T-Birds had closed to within 33-23.
However, Provo quickly put Timpview back on its heels when Sorensen opened the fourth with a trey from the corner and Thornton soon followed with a trey from the other corner. After a running jumper by Kyle Collinsworth, Provo was back ahead by 19. The rest of the fourth was a hack fest and a parade to the free-throw line for both teams. The T-Birds cut the margin to eight in the final minutes, but never got any closer.
"Timpview was tough and aggressive and going after people. They're dang good at doing that," Drury said.Provo was led in scoring by Collinsworth with 15 points. Behind Kaufusi's 23, Greening added 10.