ROY Taylor Thompson put his team in good scoring position time after time by attacking the boards with an inexhaustible supply of relentless energy.
On his final rebound, the Roy High center also drew a chore of beating the clock and putting the ball back in the hoop.
His thoughts centered on not blowing two easy points.
"Once I got the rebound, the first thing I said (was) 'Don't miss this. Out of all the layups in the game, this one I can't miss,'" the senior said.
Thompson's shooting touch at that moment was as sure as his rebounding skills. His putback basket with three seconds left gave Roy a heart-stopping 54-52 victory over Woods Cross on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats called timeout to set up one last play. Holton Hunsaker buried a 3-pointer off of the inbounds pass, but the game officials ruled he released the shot after the clock expired.
With their dramatic last-second victory, the Royals tied for second place in Region 5 and deprived Woods Cross of a second seed in next week's 4A tournament.
It was the second time in two years a game between these teams came down to a final shot.
"It's funny that happened because the same thing happened last year as well," Roy coach Corey Melaney said. "We had an offensive putback with about seven seconds left. I guess history repeats itself."
That much was evident during the game, although it would have been Woods Cross creating the feelings of deja vu if Hunsaker's shot had counted. Two separate times, the Wildcats ended a quarter with a buzzer-beating shot.
Tyler Stahle closed the first quarter by scooping up the ball on the run, after a turnover by the Royals, and laying it in to bring Woods Cross to within four at 16-12. Stahle burned the Royals' defense again at the end of the third when he faked out a pair of defenders and buried a 3-pointer to trim Roy's lead to 40-35.
"We did not convert very well at the end of quarters," Melaney said. "It was really frustrating because usually we are very good at the end of quarters."
Woods Cross needed some dramatic shots to stay within striking distance of Roy after it dominated the glass. Thompson, who finished with 10 points and a team-high 15 rebounds, had many moments where he or other teammates scored simply because they repeatedly pulled down offensive rebounds to set up second-chance buckets.
The Royals used their rebounding prowess to take control early, building a 16-9 lead after Thompson outrebounded the Wildcats by himself in the first quarter. Roy extended its lead to 11 in the third quarter, going up 37-26 on Jake Petersen's basket, and enjoyed a similar disparity on the glass.
By game's end, the had Royals collected 38 rebounds compared to 25 for Woods Cross.
Wednesday's victory was the fifth in six games for Roy. The Royals are suddenly one of 4A's hottest teams after returning to a gym where they've lost just one region game in two seasons."When we play at home, it's just a new advantage," Thompson said. "We play our best basketball at home."
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