OGDEN — Jordan’s players don’t have to worry about running sprints at practice on Friday morning. It’s their reward for another hard-earned defensive victory during the 5A quarterfinals on Thursday.
“Our goal is 51 points and below every game. Anytime it’s above 51, we run in practice the next day,” said Jordan coach Trace Bevell.
Jordan had to run sprints after its first-round win over Maple Mountain, but that wasn’t a concern against Murray as it dominated the second half on its way to the 61-43 win at Weber State.
With the win, Jordan advances to Friday’s semifinals against East at 7:30 p.m. — the program’s first semifinal appearance since 2003, when it lost in the championship.
“Winning’s hard, and to get to this level of the state tournament it magnifies it. The intensity’s got to be higher, guys have got to play better. We didn’t play very well against Maple Mountain, we had to play better tonight because Murray has been playing very well,” said Bevell.
Jordan got off to a rocky start, falling behind by 12 early, but it closed the deficit to 24-22 by halftime and then rolled in the second half with most of the damage coming in the paint or from the free-throw line.
Jordan outrebounded Murray 40-18 and enjoyed a 36-18 scoring end in the paint.
Dyson Koehler led the ‘Diggers with 27 points for the second straight night to go along with his 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 junior did most of his damage attacking the lane.
“So far this tournament I haven’t been able to hit my 3s, so I’ve been trying to attack a bit more and get easy buckets and get to the free-throw line,” said Koehler. “I think we’re the best team in the state. I feel like we can play against anyone in the state … I’m pretty confident in my team.”
That confidence was lacking a bit the first two and a half minutes. Murray connected on three straight 3-pointers to open the game, including two from Jalen Thompson.
Down 13-1, Bevell called a quick timeout to try to slow Murray’s momentum.
“The longer it goes you’re behind, the more you panic, the more confidence they get. If we didn’t start making some shots we were in trouble, if we didn’t get out in transition for some easy buckets we were in trouble 'cause they guard you pretty well,” said Bevell.
Jordan responded by scoring 10 straight points to end the quarter, and Bevell said defense is what pulled his team back into the game.
In the third quarter, that’s what allowed his team to pull away for good.Comment on this story
With the scored tied 30-30, the ‘Diggers closed the quarter on a 10-2 run and continued to attack in the fourth. They finished the game making 20 of 29 free throws, including 15 of 21 in the second half.
Bevell acknowledged it was a pretty win for the second straight game at Weber State, but that’s the style his team is OK playing.
“We don’t win pretty, we’ve got to guard and keep teams from scoring. If it gets into a scoring match and a run-and-gun deal, that’s not our style. We can do it, but we’ve got to guard first,” said Bevell.