OGDEN Even by trying to give the game away late, the Clearfield Falcons still left the Dee Events Center late Monday night with the biggest upset of the 5A state basketball tournament.
With a box-and-one defense that totally had Pleasant Grove confused, and by shooting lights out, Clearfield took control of the game midway through the third quarter and held on for a thrilling 52-47 win over the state's No. 3 team.
"This was a team win. Definitely a team win," Clearfield coach Curt Hulse said.
But the Falcons almost let the upset slip away when they made a crucial mistake by calling timeout with 1:30 remaining, when they didn't have a time-out remaining. Instead of trying to push their lead to six, they watched the Vikings sink two technical free throws and then have a chance to tie or take the lead.
However, Pleasant failed to capitalize on the mistake by failing to score on the possession and then turning the ball over on the next two possessions. When Jordan Wheeler then hit two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to put Clearfield up 51-47, the Vikings didn't have time to get off another decent shot and never scored again.
Hulse said his players did not panic after the time-out mistake and kept their composure at a time when it would have been easy to fold up shop.
"Our motto all year has been two simple words next play," Hulse said.
It looked like Pleasant Grove was going to run Clearfield out of the gym early behind the deadly shooting of C. J. Wilcox. The Vikings took a 10-4 lead right out of the gate. But once the Falcons calmed down and became much more patient offensively, they slowly climbed back. The rest of the game was played with a tempo in Clearfield's favor.
Clearfield led twice in the second quarter and trailed only 24-21 at the half. The Falcons took flight early in the third, and with a 3-pointer by Jordan Hanson, a dunk by Nick Thompson and a banker by Steve Brimhall they took a 28-24 lead and never trailed again. Then, with a 9-0 run a few minutes later, the Falcons were ahead by at least a basket the rest of the way.
The Falcons got big games from big guys Cameron Evans and Nick Thompson, who scored 17 and 11 points and pulled down 12 and seven rebounds respectively.
"Those two have carried us all year and I wouldn't have expected any less tonight," Hulse said.Pleasant Grove was led by Wilcox, who totaled a game-high 24. The only other Viking in double figures was cousin LeSean Wilcox.
Key stat: Clearfield shot 63 percent from the floor, while Pleasant Grove shot only 38 percent.
Top performer: Clearfield forward Cameron Evans scored 17 points and pulled down 12 boards.Next: Bingham, Wednesday, 2:30 p.m.