WEST VALLEY CITY Wasatch knows better than to get flustered by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. If anything, it fires the Wasps up more.
When Morgan hit a half-courter at the buzzer to force overtime in last weekend's first-round game, Wasatch responded by scoring 20 points in overtime for the big victory. In Thursday's 3A quarterfinal round at the E Center, Delta's Kurt Nielson put his team ahead 39-38 by burying a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer. It didn't faze Wasatch one bit.
The Wasps responded with a 16-0 run to open the fourth quarter in coasting to the 56-44 victory over the second-ranked Rabbits.
"These guys all year have seemed to be able to step up big when they needed to, we've had some huge overtime games where all the sudden we explode," said Wasatch coach Lonnie Magnusson.
The catalyst to Thursday's decisive run was a little extra defense.
"We changed our press in the fourth quarter, went to a little different press with a little more intensity to it and it caused some turnovers for us, and that was big," said Magnusson.
Delta committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, and by the time the Rabbits scored their first points Wasatch was already comfortably ahead 54-39 with 1:25 remaining.
In the three quarters before Wasatch's defense took over, Taylor Woodruff was the main attraction for the Wasps. He scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the first three quarters, including four 3-pointers.
"He's got a nice shot. He carried us for a while in that first half with his play, and the other guys were struggling a bit and got into foul trouble," said Magnusson.
Wasatch advances to Friday's semifinals, where it will face the winner of Cedar and Logan at 7:30 p.m.
The Wasps, who shot 46 percent compared to Delta's 38 percent, looked poised to pull away early in the second quarter as Woodruff scored eight straight points to put them ahead 22-14.
Delta responded with a 10-2 run to level the score at 24-24, before Wasatch's Devin King buried a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the half to give Wasatch a 27-24 lead.
The third quarter was filled with runs, with Delta going in front 32-29 and then Wasatch regaining the lead at 38-34.
With two impressive wins under his team's belt, Magnusson knows it won't get any easier in Wasatch's quest to win its first state title since back-to-back 3A championships in 2003 and 2004."With this bunch of kids, I don't think there's ever been a lack of confidence, but I think they're realizing they can play with anybody and they deserve to be here," he said.