OGDEN This is the battle which basketball fans have been begging to see for much of the season. Davis versus Lone Peak. The defending champion versus the undefeated contender.
It would make one heck of a championship game, but because of the way this year's bracket is structured his epic matchup is taking place one round earlier on Friday afternoon in the 5A semifinals.
Even without a loss, Davis will be an underdog for one of the few times this season. Few people outside Davis County believe the Darts can continue on to a state title against a Knights' team utilizing more talent in its starting lineup than other in-state schools have on their whole team.
If Davis isn't supposed to win, they're not buying it.
"We're not focused on outcome," said Darts coach Jay Welk. "We're not focused on a point spread. We're focused on performance."
Davis has excelled, in part, by taking a consistent approach to each game. Of course, it helps that the Darts also have a wealth of talent to draw from.
Just like when the two teams met earlier this season, Davis overwhelmed Alta in the second half of Wednesday's quarterfinal. The Darts scored 25 points in the third quarter on their way to an easy 70-56 victory.
Chase Flint made several big plays in those eight minutes to keep Davis' perfect season intact. The senior guard finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Things flowed so smoothly on offense that Flint didn't even realize the Darts put up 70 points on one of the state's best defenses until well after the game was over.
"I was just aware of how much we were up," Flint said. "That's all I cared about."
Lone Peak's chances of disrupting the Darts' offensive machine are better than average after the way it dismantled West Jordan in a 59-36 victory at the Dee Events Center. The Knights allowed the Jaguars to score a single layup in the first quarter and yielded only 11 total points by halftime.
Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said the early dominance was a little misleading because West Jordan tried to establish a slower tempo.
"I don't know that we were necessarily outstanding defensively," Lewis said. "It was just a low possession game."
Defense probably won't dictate how things turn out as much once the Knights finally face Davis. If anything, the most intriguing story lines should come from the offensive end.
Lone Peak forward Tyler Haws and Davis center Jackson Stevenett rank third and fourth respectively among individual scorers in 5A.
Both teams have a strong supporting cast to fall back on as well. Three of Haws' teammates Justin Hamilton, Bracken Funk and Josh Sharp have signed to play at Division I schools. Stevenett can turn to a nice collection shooters led by Connor Van Brocklin the 5A leader in 3-point shooting a year ago.
This is a game which could easily see either team reach 70 or 80 points if they find an early offensive rhythm.
The true advantage may be found in something as simple as rebounding. The Darts know continuing their perfect season may lie on whether or not they can control the boards."If we rebound the ball, we have a chance," Flint said.
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