EPHRAIM It's been a season of transition and growth for Layton Christian's boys basketball team.
Not only did the Eagles, last year's 1A boys basketball champ, move up a classification to 2A, they've also been adjusting to life without the graduated seniors that powered them to the 1A title.
Young and talented but also inexperienced, the Eagles have had several ups and downs during the 2007-08 season.
That much was clearly evident during LCA's opening-round 2A tournament game against Enterprise Friday morning.
At times, Layton Christian looked great. At times, it looked ordinary.
But from start to finish, they got better and better, and that proved to be more than enough for a first-round victory. Junior swing man Antwain Harvey shot a sizzling 11 of 12 from the field, and the Eagles pulled away from Enterprise in the second half en route to an 84-65 win.
"It's been a fun year coaching these young men, and they're adjusting and adapting and getting better every game," said coach Bobby Porter, who noted that this team has reminded him of the way last year's title-winning group played as juniors.
"Every game we try to get better, but they're like a box of chocolates we never know what we're going to get. One day they look good. One day they look bad. I'm just proud about the way we played today."
Layton Christian will meet top-ranked South Sevier in the quarterfinals next Thursday at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
One of the reasons for the peaks and valleys this year, Porter suggested, has been that his players have sometimes tried to do too much of their own. Leading up to Friday's playoff game, LCA coaches told Harvey to simply stay within the offense and take what came to him.
That's exactly what he did, and the results were awfully impressive, as Harvey only missed one field goal and finished with a game-high 24 points.
"We told him, 'Hey, we've got people around you. You depend on your teammates, and your teammates depend on you. So do what you can,'" said Porter. "And today he did. He played within the concept of the game."
LCA had balanced scoring around Harvey, and once they started to take care of the basketball in the second half, they proved to be too much for Escalante.
Layton Christian used a pair of big runs in the first half to open a double-digit lead. Escalante kept fighting to stay within striking distance, but an 11-2 run by LCA near the start of the fourth quarter finally put the game away.
(When) we made a mistake, we didn't put our head down," said Harvey. "We kept it up and got back in the game."Besides Harvey, Shawn Washington (11), Juan Silveira (10) and Mike Valdez (10) each finished in double figures for the Eagles. Meanwhile, sophomore center Lance Gardner paced the Wolves with 17 points, and Kyle West and Austin Moyle added 11 and 10, respectively.