At halftime I just challenged the kids to just go out and play, go out and play hard. They responded and the rest is history. —Corner Canyon head coach Dan Lunt
OGDEN — Inconsistency has been the story of Corner Canyon’s season, so it’s only fitting that inconsistency defined its 5A opening-round game at Weber State on Monday night.
And the reason for all that consistency? Hayden Welling has a theory. "If one of us doesn’t come to play I feel it’s contagious and then the rest of us don’t come to play.”
That was evident against Highland as the Chargers fell behind by a dozen points and scored just 18 points in a collectively disappointing first half.
Fortunately for Corner Canyon, the rut didn’t carry over into the second half. After scoring just 18 points in the first half, it torched the nets for 51 points in the second half to rally for a 69-57 victory over a stunned Highland team.
“At halftime I just challenged the kids to just go out and play, go out and play hard. They responded and the rest is history,” said Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt.
The Chargers shot 55 percent from the field in the second half after shooting just 27 percent in the first half. Hayden Welling led the way for Corner Canyon with 16 points, with John Mitchell chipping in with 13.
“I think we were too mechanical in the first half, we looked really stiff, both offensively and defensively,” said Lunt. “(Highland) came out and looked like they were the better team, they acted they were the better team, they were the more aggressive team.”
Corner Canyon’s defense was the catalyst for flipping the script after halftime. It forced Highland into 10 second-half turnovers, which the Chargers converted into 17 points. Highland finished the game with 18 turnovers compared to just eight for Corner Canyon.
Leading 30-18 at the half, Highland actually stretched its lead to 38-24 at the 5:49 mark of the third quarter thanks to a pair of 3-pointers from Christian Rich.
That seemed to be the definitive wake-up call for the Chargers though. They closed the third quarter on a 23-11 run as Shane Hertgen hit a key 3-pointer at the quarter buzzer.
“We just started attacking the basket in the second half and started locking up on defense and then things started going our way,” said Welling.
Forty-five seconds into the fourth quarter Ammon Jensen drained a 3-pointer to give Corner Canyon its first lead of the game at 52-50. After Highland tied it back at 52-52, Jensen hit another 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
“Ammon Jensen hit a 3 that put us up by two and then we kind of played with a new confidence, and we played like we were going to win the game,” said Lunt.
The Chargers never trailed again as Highland didn’t make a single field goal over the final six minutes, with all of its points coming from the free throw line the rest of the way.
Elijah Shelton led Highland in the loss with 14 points, but 13 of those came in the first half when the Rams had all the momentum.
With the victory, Corner Canyon advances to Wednesday’s 5A quarterfinals and will face Box Elder at the University of Utah at 5:50 p.m.