CEDAR CITY — The Bear River Bears could not miss.
At least, it felt that way to the Sky View Bobcats during the first half of Saturday night’s 4A boys state championship game.
“Hats off to Bear River,” Sky View head coach Kirk Hillyard said. “I don’t think they missed in the first half. Holy cow, they shot like we did last night.”
Whether it be Ren Fonnesbeck, Wyatt Roholt, Kelton Summers, Mark Huber or Parker Coombs, the Bears were simply on fire to start the title game, played at Southern Utah University’s America First Event Center.
“Oh my gosh, that was crazy,” Mason Falslev said. “With every shot it felt like we kept getting down and down.”
“I was getting nervous,” Sam Phipps added.
They needn’t have been.
Led by Phipps and Falslev — really a collective team effort — Sky View defeated Bear River 64-59 to win the state title.
Phipps finished with a game-high 23 points, to go along with 11 boards, not to mention more than a few blocked shots.
Falslev added 17 points for the Bobcats, Cole Deboard 13.
The Bears were paced by Fonnesbeck, who finished with 17 points, as well as Summers, with 13.
“Incredible win, and what a grind, man. Hats off to Bear River,” Hillyard said. “Bear River played some junk defense on us, took us out of our game, took Mason out of his game, but we had a bunch of other guys step up and make plays tonight. It is great. It is awesome. Hats off to the kids.”
“It is just the most amazing feeling,” Falslev added. “All that practice and time that you put into it, to get the result you’ve always wanted — it just feels so good.”
“It is amazing,” said Phipps. “That is all I can say, it is amazing.”
The so-called junk defense played by Bear River was a triangle and two zone, and it had the desired effect. The Bobcats' zone defense, meanwhile — a 2-3 zone — did not.
“We handled them pretty well in region, but they came out in that triangle and two and we weren’t really expecting that,” said Falslev. “We thought we could hit them with our 2-3 zone, but we needed to get up in them and give them a little more pressure. We had to adjust.”
Adjustments on both sides of the ball came with a fury in the second half, after Sky View trailed 36-34 at the break.
The Bobcats controlled the third quarter, led by Phipps on both ends of the floor.
The junior scored 12 third-quarter points — “I just got after the ball and jumped higher than everyone else,” Phipps said — and helped anchor a switch to man-to-man defense.
“We switched to man. We had to get after it in man to man,” Hillyard said. “The kids did a great job in the second half. They said, 'Coach, let's go with it,' and they did and did a great job.”
As for the offensive end, the Bobcats passed the ball, arguably the reason for Phipps’ outburst.
“That was the key. In the first quarter I thought we stood around and watched. That was our problem. We needed to move the ball around a bit and when we started doing that it worked in our favor,” Hillyard said.
Still, all the adjustments didn’t give Sky View complete separation, and Bear River was within striking distance the entire fourth quarter.
With the game on the line, and the title up for grabs, the Bobcats made just enough of the right plays.
On offense that meant seven points courtesy of Falslev, despite the fact that he faced a double-team on nearly every possession.
On defense that meant blocked shots by Phipps, of Bear River jump shots no less.
“I just got the timing right,” Phipps said, “but it was a lot of fun. I told (Coombs) I was going to get him one time and I finally got him.”
“He can jump out of the gym and that was seen tonight,” added Hillyard. “Someone had to step up and he did that.”Comment on this story
Ultimately it was the Bobcats who stepped up, and walked away state champions.
“I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world,” Falslev said. “These guys are my friends forever, my teammates and my brothers and I love them so much. (Winning the state title with them) is just the most amazing feeling.”
Deseret News 4A Boys All-Tournament Team
- MVP — Sam Phipps, Sky View
- Zach Alspaugh, Bonneville
- Mason Falslev, Sky View
- Ren Fonnesbeck, Bear River
- Wyatt Roholt, Bear River
- Logan Sorensen, Payson