RICHFIELD — It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, it was often a bit of a mess, but in the end, the Parowan Rams kicked off the quarterfinals of the 2A state tournament the best way possible, with a 51-40 victory over the North Summit Braves.
The Rams were led to victory by the tried and true combination of Porter Miller and Porter Wood. Throughout the season Parowan relied on the duo, to the tune of 27 points per game, and they came through again Thursday morning at the Sevier Valley Center.
While Wood was impressive, he finished with a game-best 22 points, it was Miller who was the standout performer.
“He was an animal today,” Parowan head coach Lance Stubbs said of Miller. “He did a really good job defensively and rebounding and I think it just affected what he did offensively as well.”
Miller finished with 15 points, but more importantly came through whenever the Rams needed him, particularly in the later moments of the contest.
Parowan didn’t need him early on, however, as they dominated the game for much of the first half, looking more than a match for the undermanned Braves (North Summit star Hayden Blonquist was diagnosed with leukemia a week before the postseason).
By the end of two quarters, the Rams held a commanding 31-16 lead that felt larger than the actual margin.
“We had a pretty good first half,” said Stubbs.
The second half was a different story.
The Braves emerged from the break a different outfit and it showed almost immediately.
North Summit caused turnovers, converted easy looks at the basket and by the midway point of the period had cut the Rams lead to single digits.
No one was more important during that run than Parker Brown. The junior guard finished with a team-high 16 points in the contest, six of which came during the game-altering third quarter.
On the flip side, Parowan was a mess.
The Rams were plagued by careless turnovers and a less than judicious shot selection.
“I’d like to call it (nerves) but we have played a whole season and hopefully we are better than that,” said Stubbs.
The one shining light was Miller.
The senior came through in the clutch time and again, almost single-handedly stopping multiple Braves runs.
North Summit got within nine points on at least four different occasions in the third and fourth quarters and each time Miller had an answer.
Whether it be a midrange jumper, canned free throws or a big defensive rebound, Miller proved to be the difference for the Rams.
“He had a good game today,” said Stubbs. “That’s for sure.”
North Summit managed to get as close as six points with just under 30 seconds remaining in the game, only to watch Miller sink back-to-back free throws to clinch the game for Parowan.
With the win, the Rams advance to the semifinals, set to be played Friday, Feb. 23., where they will battle the winner of the quarterfinals contest between No. 1 Rowland Hall St Marks and No. 2 Duchesne.