OGDEN Provo has made a habit in this state tournament of burying teams in the second half.
The Bulldogs did it to Sky View and Pine View in the first two rounds, and on Friday they made Mountain Crest their latest victim. Leading by just one at the break, Provo pulled away in the second half for its third straight double-digit victory of the playoffs with a 56-44 win over the Mustangs in the 4A semifinals.
With the win, the Bulldogs advance to today's championship game against Bountiful at 5 p.m. in the Dee Events Center.
"The first half we weren't really playing our defense; (in the second half) we just came up and stuffed them with our Bulldog defense, that's how we should play throughout the whole game," said Provo big man Brandon Davies, who had to be licking his chops heading into the game against an opponent without much post presence.
Davies dominated the interior throughout, scoring 26 points and grabbing nine rebounds in playing all 32 minutes of a game in which Provo outscored Mountain Crest in the paint 36-16.
Davies is coming into his own at the perfect time after battling a shin injury early in the season. Early in the season, he was battling a shin injury, but heading into today's game against Bountiful's he's close to 100 percent.
"It took him all through January just to get back in shape," said Provo coach Craig Drury. "He's starting to get it rested and confidence is coming, and he's a heck of a player."
The opening half of Friday's game was extremely competitive. Upset-minded Mountain Crest actually led by six early in the second quarter before Provo closed the half on a 5-0 run to take a 26-25 lead.
In the first round against Sky View, Provo turned a one-point halftime lead into a 14-point victory. Two days later in the quarterfinals it pulled away from Pine View for an 11-point win after leading by four at the half.
So it wasn't surprising then that Provo did it again against Mountain Crest.
Down only one at the break, Mountain Crest didn't score its first points of the third quarter until the 1:48 mark, and by that time it trailed by 11 and never recovered.
"We're a defensive team and sometimes without a good scouting report it takes a half to kind of figure out what they're trying to do," said Drury.
Provo made a few adjustments to stop Mountain Crest's penetration, and in the second half Scott Edwards was instrumental in shutting down the Mustangs, who shot 18 percent in the second half compared to 69 for Provo.
"Scottie Edwards he went out there and closed them out," said Drury.Kyson Koop and Kyle Collinsworth each chipped in with 12 points for Provo. to go along with Davies' 26, while Chandler Smith, Seth Coombs and Riley Crosbie all finished in double figures for Mountain Crest.
Top performer: Brandon Davies led the way for the Bulldogs with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including nine rebounds. Key stat: In the second half, Provo shot 69 percent and held Mountain Crest to just 18 percent shooting. Up next: 4A championship, Provo vs. Bountiful, 5 p.m. today.