ST. GEORGE — Grantsville played from behind against Grand for virtually every minute of Thursday’s 3A quarterfinal game at Dixie State, but it always remained within striking distance.
The slate was wiped clean when sophomore Jackson Sandberg sent the game into overtime with a rebound putback with three seconds left, and Grantsville never relinquished that momentum the rest of the way.
The Cowboys scored the first five points in overtime and never trailed as they held on for the 66-62 victory over Grand to advance to Friday’s 3A semifinals.
“I think in overtime we finally had the energy and momentum over them. I felt they were a little deflated going into overtime because they had that lead there and we came back,” said Grantsville associate head coach Brandon Pehrson.
Grantsville’s only leads in regulation were at 15-13 in the second quarter and then 47-44 early in the fourth. Both times Grand quickly regained the lead.
After falling behind 47-44 in the fourth, Grand responded with an 11-4 run to open up a 55-51 lead with 1:21 remaining.
Grantsville cut the deficit to 55-52 as Sandberg hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:15 remaining, and then one possession later senior Kevin Roberts drained a baseline 3-pointer to level the score at 55-55.
“Kevin Roberts had been struggling all game, but I knew we needed him,” said Pehrson. “He was a big reason we had a lot of turnovers (in the first half), but I pulled him aside and said ‘we’re going to need that shot today to win that game so you stay focused and keep shooting those shots.’”
Cameron Hoppensteadt helped Grand retake the 57-55 lead with a driving lay-up with 25 seconds remaining, which set the stage for Sandberg to make his biggest contribution of the night.
He corralled a missed off-balance jumper from teammate Brady Arbon and laid it back in with three seconds left tying the game at 57-57.
“He’s been excellent this year. I can’t say enough about Jackson. He’s a hustle player. Plays team ball, he’s physical and tough down there,” said Pehrson.
Sandberg finished with a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Arbon also added a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Grand’s Hoppensteadt nearly won the game at the end of regulation on another driving layup out of a timeout, but his shot in the paint was blocked by Isaac Riding. Hoppensteadt eventually fouled out in overtime, and Grand missed his ability to attack the lane.
Grantsville got off to a bit of a rocky start on Thursday, turning the ball over 14 times in the first half. That came on the heels of committing 28 turnovers in a first-round win over Union last weekend.
The Cowboys only trailed 25-22 despite those early struggles, and it eventually settled down after halftime.
“I just kept reminding the guys, look fellas it’s a long game. But this long game happens one fundamental at a time, one possession at a time, one quarter at a time. We just dialed in,” said Pehrson.