OGDEN — In recent years, title game berths have been a regular occurrence for the Layton Christian Academy Eagles, a 2A boys basketball powerhouse.
But that wasn’t the case last season.
In last year’s state tournament, the Eagles — title favorites and defending champions — were cut down in the semifinals by a senior-laden Beaver squad, a defeat that still stings for LCA.
It was defense, or rather the lack thereof that doomed the Eagles in that game, but in their return trip to the semis this season, that was anything but the case.
Layton Christian turned in a dominant defensive performance Friday night at Weber State University’s Dee Events Center.
The Eagles held the Rowland Hall Winged Lions to just 42 percent shooting from the field and 20 percent from behind the arc. LCA forced 20 turnovers, recorded 16 steals, and altogether smothered a Rowland Hall team that boasted the fourth-best scoring offense in the classification.
The result was a 76-59 victory and another title game spot.
“A lack of defense last year caused us not to be in the championship, so we were dedicated to it this year,” said Layton Christian head coach Bobby Porter. “We started working as soon as the moratorium ended. We’ve been working and working and it is a blessing to make it back.”
Initially, the contest was close and competitive — Porter compared it to some of Layton Christian’s more competitive wins this season against Trinity Christian (Texas) and Judge Memorial.
The Winged Lions, particularly guards Boston Ballard and Trey Provost, were more than up to the challenge of the Eagles full court pressure and at the end of the first quarter the score was just 16-14, in favor of Layton Christian.
A 3-point barrage by Tomasi, Muller and Patrick Penezola, coupled with an altered press, allowed the Eagles to run away in the second quarter, however.
“We just changed the press,” Porter said. “We have several different presses, but my big thing is you have to be flexible and when you use creativity the kids like it.”
The second half brought with it the regular Layton Christian defense, as the 2A title favorites clamped down on anything and everything attempted by the Winged Lions.
Rowland Hall turnovers led to easy buckets and before long the LCA lead ballooned 20-plus, where it would remain the rest of the game.
“We have passion, we are competitive and we have kids that just gravitate toward their role,” Porter said. “We have a team that likes each other, a team that will sacrifice for each other and a team that likes defense. This team is a team that’ll keep you coaching for another five years. It is a pleasure to coach them.”
The Eagles will face the Parowan Rams in the 2A state championship game, Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Parowan took on Kanab in the nightcap Friday night and made short work of the upstart Cowboys.2 comments on this story
The Rams held the Cowboys scoreless in the first quarter, a period they won 14-0, overwhelming a Kanab team unaccustomed to last-season tournament play.
While the Cowboys eventually found their way into the scoring column — Kanab outscored Parowan 10-7 in the second quarter — the early advantage, coupled with a stout Rams defensive showing throughout the night, was too much to overcome.
Porter Wood led the way for Parowan with a game-high 19 points, which earned him a standing ovation near the end of the Rams' 51-27 win.
Max Topham added 9 points for Parowan, while Kanab was led by Derek Houston, who finished with 8.