I know we have flown under the radar, but our goal all year has been to get better every day and I think our kids have done that. —Duchesne head coach Billy Hoopes
RICHFIELD — For much of the season, the Duchesne Eagles were an afterthought, a fun fact if you will. Outside, expectations weren’t all that high for them as they were one of the newcomers to the 2A classification.
In their own region, Region 16, they were overshadowed in a big way by the defending champion Layton Christian Eagles. Even heading into the state tournament, as a No. 2 seed, the Eagles were not expected to make much noise.
After Friday night at the Sevier Valley Center that's no longer the case.
Lamborn finished with a game-high 17 points, while Poulson added 11. Jaren Mortensen chipped in 10 more points for the Eagles, who controlled the contest almost from start to finish.
“I know we have flown under the radar, but our goal all year has been to get better every day and I think our kids have done that,” said Duchesne head coach Billy Hoopes. “Our guys were a little tight at first, but once they settled in we kept getting one defensive stop after another. The kids just did a great job taking our game plan and executing it, especially on the defensive end.”
To that point, the Eagles limited the Rams to a measly three first-quarter points and just 12 in the first half. Perhaps more importantly, Rams stars Porter Miller and Porter Wood were held to a combined total of 13 points, 14 points less than their season average.
“I don’t know how much Miller had but we did a good job holding him down,’ said Hoopes. “Both those Porters, between the two of those guys, our guys did a great job doing what we asked them to do.”
Leading the way on the defensive end was Poulson. Less than a day after being tasked with guarding Rowland Hall St. Marks point guard Boston Ballard, Poulson was asked to lock down Wood.
On the season, Wood averaged 18 points a game. Against Poulson and the Eagles, he scored just five.
“That is the thing about Wes,” said Hoopes. “Anything I have asked him to do he has done. He is so versatile as a defender. I mean it is a fantastic weapon for us to have. He allows all the others guys to be able to do their job.”
Almost all the Eagles effectively executed their jobs, on both ends of the court, and as a result they are now a game away from being crowned state champs.
“It is a big step (for our program),” said Hoopes. “We were in the semis a few years ago and we have been in the championship (game), in 1A, but for us to make it to the title game in our first year in 2A, that step is big.”
The Eagles will face off against the Beaver Beavers Saturday night at 7 p.m.