PLEASANT GROVE Every fan packed into the Pleasant Grove High gym Friday night knew that stars Tyler Haws, of Lone Peak, and C.J. Wilcox, of Pleasant Grove, were going to carry the biggest share of the scoring load.
They've been watching the same show now for four years. The real mystery was the other guys and what they were going to contribute to what has become one of the state's best rivalries.
That question was answered quite clearly in Lone Peak's come-from-behind 64-56 road win over the Vikings
As expected, Wilcox (29 points) and Haws (20 points) put on another show in what is probably their final meeting in two outstanding four-year prep careers. But the difference turned out to be what the Knights got from Haws' supporting cast.
"It's just taken us a while to get those guys comfortable, but now that they are, they can play," Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis said of his other starters and reserves.
For example, Knight guard Tommy Tebbs scored six critical second-quarter points that helped Lone Peak stay within striking distance of the Vikings who led by as many as nine points in the period.
In the third quarter, when Haws had only one basket, Lone Peak guards Tannon Pedersen and Brandon Reeves both made big shots that helped the Knights turn a five-point halftime deficit into a tie game heading into the fourth. Pedersen also drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to knot the score 19-19.
Then there was 6-foot-10 center Nate Austin, who scored 12 quiet points but grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked four shots. Austin's put-back basket to open the fourth gave the Knights their first lead of the game, 45-43. Most of his rebounds and blocks came in the second half, and both factors contributed largely to Pleasant Grove making only three baskets in the third quarter and only seven hoops the entire second half.
"We said at halftime that hey, C.J. (18 first-half points) is one heck of a player, and that we just needed to tighten up a little bit, get a little more help on him, stay the course and execute a little bit better, and we did," Lewis said.
Despite all of that, the game was still tight heading down the stretch that is until a two-minute span late in the fourth quarter when senior Dillon Smith erupted for three straight 3-pointers that really put the game way for the Knights. Only seconds earlier, the Knights trailed 48-47. But a basket and two free throws by Haws put Lone Peak up by three, and then Smith's trifecta bomb display from up top suddenly had the Knights leading by 12.
"It's amazing how one quick spurt like that can be the separation in the game," Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister said. "I thought we played them pretty even other than that."
Ironically, Smith was hampered with fouls the entire game, had just checked back into the game with four fouls, and those baskets were the only points he scored. He fouled out a short time later.
"Dillon's a kid that is not going to be intimidated by this environment," Lewis said. "He kept his confidence, got the shots, and he stuffed them."
The victory gives the Knights (7-0) a two-game lead in Region 4 and, with only three games remaining, essentially seals their third straight league title. The Vikings (5-2) are a game ahead of Lehi in second. Both coaches think the two teams could meet again in the state tournament.