OGDEN — It’s important to be at your best in the fourth quarter, and that’s exactly what Alta was in its 49-43 comeback win over Weber in the quarterfinals of the 5A state basketball playoffs Wednesday. The Hawks buckled down on defense, hit some clutch shots on offense and landed themselves in the semifinals.
“The defense is what I’m most proud of. Our kids just locked down on them,” said coach Jim Barker. “We were struggling a little bit defending (Hayden) Schenck. He’s tough, but we locked down. ... We kept battling and that zone is hard to figure out. ... We started to break it down a bit ... and we hit some big shots.”
Weber led for most of the contest and held a 38-32 lead heading into the fourth. Due to some tenacious defense from Alta, the Warriors scored just five points in the final period and made just one field goal, which didn’t come until the 34.3-second mark.
“We’re known for defense over at Alta,” said senior guard RJ Beard. “That’s our main priority and all our hard work just paid off.”
In between the defensive stops were some key conversions on the other end — most notably from Beard. With just under a minute left and the game tied at 41, Beard set up for a corner 3-point attempt that hit the bottom of the net while quieting a raucous Weber crowd.
It was a moment the senior won’t soon forget.
“Coach says to shoot every time I get open and he has confidence in me, so I thought I’d just knock it down,” Beard said.
Was it the biggest shot of Beard's life? "It was — by far," he affirmed.
Beard led the Hawks with a team-high 15 points and 5-10 shooting from 3-point range.
Following Beard’s shot Schenck drew Weber to within one on a driving basket with 34.3 seconds left, but it’s as close as the Warriors would get. Clutch Alta free-throw shooting kept the Warriors at bay and ultimately finished them off.
First up to the foul line down the stretch was Landon Albrecht, who calmly swished through both of his attempts to put his team up 46-43 with 27.3 seconds left.
“We’ve hit big free throws in both (tournament) games that we’ve won,” Barker said. “I think that’s what having been in the tournament before does for you. Landon was there last year and he stayed calm and those were huge free throws.”
Albrecht also added two big blocked shots in the game’s final two minutes and finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three assists. Junior guard Zach Rollins contributed 12 points and two made free throws at the 14-second mark to all but finish the Warriors off.
Weber was led by Schenck, who scored a game-high 20 points.
With the win Alta advances to the semifinals to face American Fork Friday night at the Dee Events Center.