OGDEN — The decade-long semifinal drought is over for Rowland Hall’s basketball program, but not without some late-game anxiousness.
After opening up a nine-point lead with 1:38 left in the game, Rowland Hall nearly gave it all back as turnovers allowed defending 2A champion Beaver to whittle the lead all the way back to one point with 22 seconds remaining.
Rowland Hall then missed a 1-and-1 opportunity, giving Beaver a shot at the go-ahead bucket, but it got a key defensive stop and then Trey Provost sank a pair of clutch free throws, providing the extra cushion as his team hung on for the 40-37 victory Thursday afternoon at Weber State.
“We obviously would’ve liked to play better, it was a pretty slow game. Not a lot of shots were made, but in the end all we were looking for was the win, so I thought it was pretty good,” said Provost, who sank the gamer-winner at the buzzer against Gunnison Valley in the 2A first round last weekend.
Provost finished with eight points as Rowland Hall advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2009, when it lost to North Summit.
This time around the Winged Lion will face top-ranked Layton Christian in the semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Both teams like to run, which should make for a much faster-paced game than what Beaver preferred in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“They definitely imposed their will of slowing it down, and we prepped for it all week. We had a great game against Gunnison Valley that got us used to that type of pace of grinding it out,” said coach Zack Alvidrez.
Isaiah Adams was key for Rowland Hall in grinding out the win, leading all players with 16 points and 11 rebounds. His dunk after a steal by Provost with 1:38 left in the game put Rowland Hall firmly in control up 38-29.
Leading only 27-25 after three quarters, Rowland Hall came out in the fourth and patiently executed its offense with an 11-4 run. Turnovers, however, on its next three possessions allowed the Beavers to keep it close.
“Beaver played well, they made plays, and a lot of our guys haven’t been in this position. As a coach it’s easy to talk about it, it’s easy to try to get them prepared, but until you experience it, those lights get a little brighter, the pressure turns up a little bit,” said Alvidrez.
Beaver capitalized on those nerves, with Preston Roberts capping the 8-0 run by stealing an inbounds pass at midcourt and streaking in for the layup, cutting the lead to 38-37.Comment on this story
Rowland Hall contested Beaver’s go-ahead layup attempt the next trip down court, with Provost coming down with the rebound. He was immediately fouled, and calmly walked to the other end of the floor knowing the scenario.
“It was a pretty long walk, but I’ve been through it a couple times in a couple games this season, just late free throws, and we practice it every day, so I was feeling prepared for it,” said Provost.
He drained both free throws, which forced Beaver to try a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer, which bounced off the back of the rim.