Down by 14 points in the third quarter to the Box Elder Bees, the Salem Hills Skyhawks didn’t bat an eye. The Skyhawks, led by Derek Burton and Gavin Hardy, posted a thrilling comeback to force overtime before eventually falling 61-55 in the first round of the 5A boys’ basketball state playoffs.
“It’s kind of what we’ve done all year — dig ourselves a hole and then battle back,” Salem Hills head coach Blake Francom said. “We’ve been really good at overtimes throughout the year, but it didn’t go our way with this one. It’s heart-breaking to lose this group in that way. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The Bees came into Wednesday’s contest, losers of five straight and eight of their last 10, but showed that they wouldn’t back down from a challenge.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Bees built their lead in the third quarter with the help of its defense and star players. Box Elder’s Riley Dahlgren scored eight of his 18 points in the quarter and Parker Buchanan added six building the Bees lead to as many as 14.
Three straight 3-pointers by Salem Hills’ Gavin Hardy cut the Bees lead to five, but a half-court shot at the buzzer by Box Elder’s Bentley Miles bumped the Bees lead back to eight heading into the final frame.
“They made some big shots,” Francom said. “They made that half-courter-I can’t say that was the difference, but that definitely stopped our momentum there as we were making a little bit of a run.”
Salem Hills put on the defensive clamps holding Box Elder to just three points in the fourth quarter and ending the game on a 10-0 run to force overtime.
“They’re resilient and tough,” Francom said about his players. “They don’t back down for a minute. We’ve been in so many situations like that that there wasn’t much I had to say.”
However, the comeback wasn’t meant to be as the Bees outscored the Skyhawks 10-4 in extra time and will now prepare to play at No. 3 Woods Cross on Friday.
The Salem Hills season may have ended earlier than expected, but the team showed great progress and earned milestone victories over Maple Mountain and Springville after starting out the season 1-6.
“I love them and that I am proud of them. It was a great year,” Francom said. “But it’s more than basketball, they’re great people and it’s been a privilege to coach them.”