RICHFIELD If South Sevier had any nerves coming into the 2A state tournament as the top-ranked team, it certainly didn't show it.
The Rams seized control of their game against Layton Christian in the second quarter using a trapping, pressure defense and continually breaking the Eagles' press to score easy baskets. The result was a 93-69 first-round win at the Sevier Valley Center early Thursday morning.
"I think our guys came out composed and ready to play," said coach Scott Hunt. "In a tournament like this, you never know exactly how your team is going to respond, so I was very happy to get a win To do it in that fashion was great."
The strength of the Rams is defense. That isn't to say they can't score as evidenced by their 93 points but even if the team doesn't shoot the ball well, it can rely on it pressure on the other end of the court to keep it in games. They employ a trapping zone which played out perfectly in the matchup with Layton Christian.
"We didn't press as much as we usually do because we felt that would play into their strength," added Hunt. "They are a good, athletic team that likes to get into the open court, so we stayed back in our zone more and tried to make them beat us from the outside.
"They hit a few 3-pointers on us, but we made them keep shooting from outside. I think most of the time you aren't going to beat a lot of teams just shooting threes."
While the pressure from the zone limited LCA's inside chances, South Sevier lit it up inside. The Rams' point guard, Nathan Roberts, was adept at breaking the Eagles' press by either beating his man off the dribble or throwing passes over the top. When his passes went over the press, his teammates attacked the rim with ferocity. The payoff was layup after layup and the Rams racking up the points.
Dillon Bishoff led the Rams with 23 points, including four 3-pointers and six rebounds. Only a sophomore, Bishoff attributes his breakout season to one thing practice.
"I think my strength is shooting the ball," said Bishoff. "I practice my shooting all the time, probably a couple of hours a day out in my driveway."
Bishoff was hardly the only Ram with an impressive stat sheet. David Blackburn scored 20 points and had six rebounds. Roberts had 15 points to go along with numerous assists, and Derrick Forbush chipped in with 19 points. The Rams move to the semifinals where they will face Parowan today at 7:30 p.m.Layton Christian was led by Jesus Rodriguez's 17 points, and Antwain Harvey had 14. The Eagles move to the consolation side of the bracket where they will play Rowland Hall at 4:10 p.m.