RICHFIELD Escalante's boys basketball team had played pretty good defense throughout the first half of its first round 1A tournament game against Christian Heritage Wednesday afternoon.
But pretty good wasn't good enough.
"We challenged 'em at halftime, 'No more free shots,'" said coach Greg Allen. "The truth is, Christian Heritage didn't have a whole lot of free shots in the first half, but I thought we were a little tougher (in the second half)."
That toughness translated into a first-round victory.
To their credit, the Christian Heritage Crusaders dropped several long three-pointers in the second half, but Escalante's increased defensive intensity forced CHS to take deep shot after long shot. In turn, that spurred Escalante's offense, and the end product was a 59-45 win and a place in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
Following a quick 5-0 burst by Christian Heritage that tied the game, 24-24, near the start of the third quarter, Escalante assumed permanent control.
The Moquis ripped off a 13-0 run immediately after, and they answered every Christian Heritage shot over the final quarter-and-a-half to prevent the Crusaders from getting back into the game.
Talented guard Tim Hughes led Escalante with 19 points and eight rebounds, both of which were game-highs, and Michael Munson and Brace Griffin added 16 points and 10 points, respectively.
On the other hand, Kelton Postel (17 points) and Miachel Morris (12 points) both drained four three-pointers and accounted for all eight of Christian Heritage's three-point baskets.
However, even when Postel and Morris made several NBA-range three-pointers in the second half, it didn't rattle the Moquis."We made up for (the three-pointers) at the other end," said Hughes. "They'd make a three, and we'd come down and hit a bucket and they'd go down and we'd get a charge or get a steal."