SALT LAKE CITY — Lone Peak began its quest for a fourth straight Class 5A boys basketball championship Tuesday with an impressive 87-60 win over Syracuse in the first round of the state playoffs at the Huntsman Center.
Once again it was TJ Haws leading the way with a game-high 29 points and 10 assists for the Knights.
Haws’ best work came in the second half when the Knights blew a relatively tight game wide open with precision shooting, crisp passing, and perhaps most of all, better rebounding.
With Lone Peak clinging to a 36-31 lead at the half, Knight coach Quincy Lewis delivered a relatively simple message to his team: rebound the basketball and amp up the defensive pressure.
His team responded to the directive and the rout was on.
Following a 3-point bucket from Zach Frampton, Haws scored nine straight points to push Lone Peak’s lead to 48-33 with a little more than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Most of Lone Peak’s second-half scoring was a direct result of simply cleaning up the defensive glass and getting the ball out early in transition for easy buckets.
“We weren’t real happy with our rebounding in the first half," Lewis said. "I think we gave up seven offensive rebounds in the first half, but in the second half we got those and it led to transition."
Frampton led the Knights in the rebounding department with a game-high 12 rebounds — nine of those on the defensive end. He also had 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and nine assists.
“Zach is so tough and he does things you guys might not notice,” Haws said. “He gets those 50-50 balls, he’s always on the floor working and he’s a big part of our team.”
Frampton also worked to get Lone Peak going in the first half when the Titans were focused on limiting Haws with double-teams and multiple defensive looks. Frampton scored 10 points in the first half in taking up most of the scoring slack along with Jantzen Allphin, who had seven.
A lot of Frampton’s and Allphin’s first-half points came by virtue of the defensive focus on Haws, who was fine playing the role of distributor.
“TJ doesn’t just have to be our scorer, but he also has to be the most unselfish guy,” Lewis said. “It’s a fine line and you saw it tonight. If he’s not making those passes we’re not winning the game.”
After establishing a big lead early in the third Lone Peak maintained pressure on both ends of the court to coast to the big 27-point win. Syracuse didn’t quit, however, and made some runs, but never seriously challenged the lead in the second half.
Michael Phelps led the Titans with a team-high 18 points.
With the win Lone Peak advances to the quarterfinals where it will take on Bingham Thursday at the Huntsman Center.