OGDEN You'd think winning state basketball championships would lose some luster for the Provo Bulldogs.
But edging the Bountiful Braves 45-42 on Saturday for the 4A boys basketball championship, the school's 17th hoops title, second straight and third in the past five years, was still a special accomplishment for this version of the Bulldogs.
"This is the greatest feeling I've ever felt," senior guard Scott Edwards said.
Even coach Craig Drury, who won his record eighth title as head coach, said each one has its own special meaning.
"It's just a championship for these young men, and I'm happy for them right now," he said.
Provo won Saturday after trailing for a good share of the game. In fact, when the Bulldogs took the lead early in the fourth it was only their second lead of the game. Provo never led in the first half, and Bountiful led by as many as 11. Late in the third, the Braves held a 34-29 advantage.
"It was a hard-fought game, and Provo did what they had to," Bountiful coach Mike Maxwell said. "They hit a few shots, got some stops and got some rebounds."
The Bulldogs began to take charge of the game by scoring the final five points of the third to tie the game 34-34 on a 3-pointer by Adam Law and a reverse baseline layup by Edwards. The trey by Law was his third of the game, and he finished by making five of seven shots.
"He's a great shooter because he knows when to shoot," Drury said.
But the real difference maker for Provo was its defensive stops in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs came out with two quick layups, while Bountiful's first points of the final frame didn't come until the 2:18 mark when Jordan Maxwell banked in a tough leaner.
"We've done it the whole tournament, have defensive runs like that, and tonight we came up big again in the fourth quarter," Edwards said.
After Provo's Brandon Davies hit two free throws, another banker by Jordan Maxwell with 1:06 left cut Provo's lead to 40-38. But the Bulldogs always stayed at least two points ahead the rest of the way by sinking some clutch free throws. In fact, Provo didn't shoot a free throw until there were only 90 seconds remaining, but made seven of 10 during that final stretch. Kyson Koop made four straight at one point. The Bulldogs are a 60 percent free-throw shooting team.
"I didn't want to get into a free-throw contest, there's no question ... but they put the right guys (Koop and Edwards) to the line for us. Those guys don't know what nerves are," Drury said.
Koop's final two free throws, with 36.9 seconds left, put Provo up 44-40, but a put-back dunk by Bountiful's Sean Carey made it 44-42. With 8.9 seconds left and Bountiful out of timeouts, Edwards went to the line and hit the first of two to give the Bulldogs a three-point cushion.
After the second attempt came up short, Bountiful raced down and got the ball to Jordan Maxwell in the left corner. But as he leaned in for a game-tying 3-point attempt, the ball was knocked loose and time expired. A couple of Braves players protested vehemently after the final buzzer, feeling a foul should have been called.
Coach Maxwell said he thinks his players just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter."I think our kids tried to play through it but came up a little short. Another day at another time, maybe we're a little stronger," he said.
Game at a glance
Top performer: Provo's Adam Law made 5-of-7 shots, and 3-of-5 3-pointers for 13 points.