WEST JORDAN — Disciplinary issues to a couple of key players left West Ridge shorthanded Wednesday night, but that didn't stop the Eagles from turning in arguably their most impressive victory of the season.
With first place at stake in Region 17, West Ridge showed some tremendous character in a 66-56 double-overtime victory over St. Joseph.
"I got the group together (Tuesday night) and said, 'we can cry about what we don't have or we can come out here and battle in our house,' and they said they wanted to come out and battle," said West Ridge coach Jamie Keefer.
With the victory, West Ridge moves into a first-place tie in Region 17 with Intermountain Christian at 6-1, whereas St. Joseph falls into third place at 5-2.
With so much on the line it was a tense game throughout, with both teams squandering opportunities to win it at the end of regulation and the first overtime. In the second overtime, however, West Ridge's Levi Waskom knocked down an early 3-pointer — one of five on the night for Waskom — and the Eagles methodically pulled away as St. Joseph struggled to get anything going offensively.
West Ridge will try and claim sole possession of first place in Region 17 when it travels to ICS on Friday.
On Wednesday, the Eagles looked poised to runaway with the victory midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:52 remaining in the game, Mortensen drilled a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 46-38. Over the next five minutes, however, West Ridge missed eight straight shots and St. Joseph capitalized with a 10-0 run to take a 48-46 lead with 1:08 left.
"I've always told our kids if we get away from our offense we're screwed, and that's what we did," said Keefer.
In the final minute West Ridge tied the game by making 1-of-2 free throws on two separate trips to the foul line, and dodged a bullet in the waning seconds when St. Joseph's Daniel Philpot's missed a baseline jumper.
The Eagles carried the momentum into overtime and built a 54-50 on a Waskom 3-pointer with 1:17 remaining. A fluke incident enabled St. Joseph right back in the game.
With 56 seconds remaining, Philpot was fouled by Gilbert while making a lay-up. It was Gilbert's fifth foul, and Keefer replaced him in the line-up with freshman Tyler Berry. Oddly, Berry wasn't listed in the scorebook, which resulted in an automatic technical foul.
Philpot made both free throws to cap the four-point possession and level the score at 54-54.
"They could've fumbled right there and called it quits, but they didn't. They kept working hard," said Keefer.
After West Ridge missed two free throws with under a minute remaining, St. Joseph had a chance to steal the road victory but it turned the ball over in the final seconds while playing for the last shot.
In the second overtime St. Joseph's offense stalled and West Ridge took advantage.
St. Joseph's 6-foot-8 big man Joe Panushka led all scorers with 25 points in the loss.