We talk about starting halves and finishing halves strong and we certainly did that at the start of the second half. I was really proud of how our kids came out and competed against a very good Orem team. —Kevin Soares, Foothill coach
OREM — Games aren’t played on paper, and that was never more apparent than during the first day of competition Thursday at the Great Western Shootout held at Orem High School. Teams tabbed as tournament favorites lost — upset by schools that proved better than their press.
"It was a crazy day for sure," said Orem coach Golden Holt, the tournament's director.
The three-day event provides prime opportunities for local schools to test themselves against top out-of-state competition. Things went well for some schools — like Bingham, for example — while tournament favorite Lone Peak and host Orem learned they have some work to do.
“We have a long ways to go and I’m very disappointed ... but hats off to Foothill. They played great,” Holt said following his team’s 85-61 loss at the hands of Foothill (Nev.) High School, a team the Tigers beat handily last year in the same tournament.
Not much of anything went right for the Tigers from start to finish Thursday.
Foothill came out strong to build a 20-10 lead after one quarter. Orem rebounded and played a bit better in the second quarter, but still found itself down 35-22 at the half.
The second half was more of the same, with the Falcons putting together an 11-0 run right out of the locker room to go up 46-22 and all but squash any notion of a Tiger comeback.
“We talk about starting halves and finishing halves strong and we certainly did that at the start of the second half,” said Foothill coach Kevin Soares. “I was really proud of how our kids came out and competed against a very good Orem team.”
Foothill was led by guard Mathew Rapp and his team-high 24 points. Jalen Shepard and Torrance Littles contributed 18 and 13 points, respectively.
Orem was paced by forward Dalton Nixon and his team-high 24 points.
The only good news for the Tigers on the night is they get a chance at redemption the very next night against Denver-East.
“The coach in me wants to take them over to the gym and practice right now and get some toughness out of them because we didn’t show any tonight,” Holt said. “Hopefully we bounce back because I don’t think we could have played any worse.”
As for Lone Peak, it incurred a rare loss at the hands of Overland (Colo.) High School, 70-63.
The Knights took a 33-26 lead into the half before some cold shooting from the perimeter and a lack of defensive rebounding ultimately did them in.
“They’re a good team and they really hurt us on the boards in the second half,” said Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis. “We had them down a couple of times, and didn’t put the knife in and gave them a chance. They’re a good team and you can’t give a team like that a chance to come back.”
Overland was led Jervae Robinson and his team-high 24 points. TJ Haws scored a game-high 26 points, but was ice cold from the perimeter — converting on just 2 of 11 3-point attempts.
It wasn't all bad news for local schools, however, as Bingham upset powerhouse Bishop O'Connell (Va.) 64-58. Sophomore center Yoeli Childs led the Miners with a team-high 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"It was really important for us to get a win against a storied program like that, but just getting a win was big for us," said first-year Bingham coach Jake Schroeder. "We started out strong and learned early we could hang with those guys and we kept it up until the end. I was real proud of our guys tonight."
In the nightcap, Denver-East won a thriller over American Fork, 68-67.
The tournament continues Friday with Lone Peak squaring off against Bishop O'Connell and Orem taking on Denver-East. American Fork will tangle with Overland, and Bingham will take on Foothill.