HIGHLAND — High school game atmospheres don't come much better than when American Fork squares off with Lone Peak, and Friday's matchup certainly lived up to the rivalry's billing. Fans from both sides packed Lone Peak's home court with the home team ultimately coming out on top 74-61.
A big run at the outset of the second quarter, coupled with the Knights' ability to hit big shots when it mattered, paved the way for what is always a big win over the Cavemen.
"American Fork is a very good team, and this definitely gives us some good confidence going into the rest of region play," said Lone Peak coach Dave Evans. "To come out on top in an environment like this is a very good thing for our team."
As for that 15-0 run in the second quarter, it came immediately.
With the Knights holding a slim 13-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, Evans' team came out on fire in the second. Garrett Frampton and Braden Bromley highlighted the scoring run, each hitting a 3-pointer that put the home crowd into a bit of a frenzy while giving the Knights a commanding 28-11 lead with 4:12 left until the half.
"We were solid in that first quarter, but we knew we could do better," said Lone Peak guard Steven Ashworth. "We just told each other, 'If you have an open shot, then stick it', and that's what we did."
Ashworth contributed just two free throws during the big 15-0 scoring run, but did his best work throughout the second half as American Fork slowly chipped away at the big lead. Time and again the junior guard and other teammates would hit big shots to answer every threat mounted by the Cavemen.
"It starts with practice, and we practice for those situations," Ashworth, who finished with a game-high 22 points, said. "And then it's just confidence we have with each other to work for open shots and then stick them."
The closest American Fork would get was midway through the third quarter, when a 3-point bucket from Rob Crowther cut Lone Peak's lead to just 44-39. But then it was Ashworth, immediately pushing his team's lead to 49-39 with two free throws and a 3-pointer.
"I coach these guys to feel like they can shoot their shot whenever they have an open look — to feel comfortable and to not hesitate," Evans said. "Steven did that very well tonight and so did a lot of our other guys. So that was big for us."
American Fork was led on the night by Jake Whithead and Isaac Johnson, who scored 19 and 14 points, respectively.
"American Fork is a talented team, and to get this win over them is a big thing for us," Ashworth said. "It was crazy. The fans came out tonight and it was so much fun to be out there, and fortunately we were able to come out on top."
With the win, Lone Peak improves to 8-3 overall and 2-0 in Region 4 play. American Fork drops to 9-5 overall, and 2-1 in Region 4 play, with the loss.