That’s where it starts — it’s on our guard line, and putting pressure on the ball. We did some things there, and the kids did a fantastic job. —Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt
SALT LAKE CITY — Most teams talk about providing a complete team effort, although few show it as well as Corner Canyon did in its 65-52 upset win over Timpanogos in the semifinal round of the 5A playoffs on Friday.
Hayden Welling led the way again for the Chargers, scoring 29 points, pulling down eight rebounds, blocking four shots and handing out five assists, but was quick to credit his entire team after the win, along with Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt.
“He was tough around the basket. He was a rim-protector, and he just did a great job,” Lunt said. “But you know, it was everybody who stepped up for a great team effort.”
A lot of Corner Canyon's best play came during a third quarter, which pretty much decided the outcome. Clinging to a 23-20 lead at the half, the Chargers figured the Timberwolves would come out hoping to push the pace and employ a fullcourt press to enable as much.
The Chargers were ready for it.
Time and again the Charger players not only handled the press but exploited it into a bevy of easy run-out lay-ups, with Welling on the receiving end of most of them. The teams traded baskets early in the third quarter before the Chargers mounted a 16-5 run to end the quarter up 46-32.
“It’s a team. It’s everybody being on the same page,” Lunt said of how his team exploited Timpanogos' press so effectively. “If one person moves, another person has to be pulled into a position, and it takes a full team. If you try and break it with one player, it’s not going to have a lot of success.”
The Chargers maintained a good-sized lead throughout the fourth quarter, with Timpanogos only managing to come within nine points midway through.
But as good as Corner Canyon was in the third quarter, and then in closing out the game, Lunt focused on another period of the game, when asked what stood out to him.
“To me, it was the way the game started,” Lunt said. “We started the game out physically and took charge right from the start. I think that set the tone for the game.”
A lot of that tone was set by the 6-foot-8 Welling and 6-3 Gabe Toombs. Both players controlled the paint, with Toombs adding 11 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
“I thought we had a huge advantage on the inside with Hayden and Gabe Toombs,” Lunt said. “I just don’t think they had anybody who could handle those two. When you take one away, the other is open and they executed. Give credit to the guys on the team.”
Corner Canyon's guards also stepped up big throughout — particularly on the defensive end, where they held Timpanogos' prolific backcourt to just six points.
“That’s where it starts — it’s on our guard line, and putting pressure on the ball,” Lunt said. “We did some things there, and the kids did a fantastic job. I think Norman and Eaquinto ended up with just six points, and anytime you do that, you’re going to be successful.”
The combination of the guards forcing tough shots and the frontcourt cleaning up the glass led to a big 39-21 advantage in total team rebounds, which Lunt was quick to point.
“The focus coming was defensively, and to win that battle, and then handle pressure,” Lunt said. “And so we out-rebounded them by 18, which is a byproduct of our defense, and we handled the pressure.”
With the win, Corner Canyon advances to the 5A championship where it will take on heavy favorite Olympus.