SALT LAKE CITY — His team was clinging to a two-point lead with less than two minutes to go, and Lone Peak’s Jared Jensen decided to let it fly anyway.
Jensen’s 3-pointer splashed through the net to give the No. 12 seed Knights some breathing room and they held on for a high-octane 74-73 win over No. 5 Skyridge in the Class 6A boys basketball quarterfinals at the Huntsman Center on Wednesday.
“If I would have missed, my coach would have been pissed,” said Jensen, who made four 3-pointers and scored 21 points. I’ve put a lot of shots up and I had faith it was going to go in.”
Jensen shushed the large Skyridge student section after his big shot.
“They were really loud,” Jensen said. “It was nice to shut them up.”
Jensen’s clutch triple was the key play in finally silencing Skyridge, which trailed by as many as 17 points in the third period and by ten with just four minutes to play but roared back into the game and just about won it.
Trailing 62-52 with 4:06 remaining, the Falcons scored eight straight to close to within two, 62-60, at the two-minute mark. Jensen’s 3-pointer made it 69-64 but Skyridge wasn’t done yet. Jensen sank a pair of free throws with 23.5 seconds to play for a 74-70 lead and the Falcons ended up with three looks at getting a 3-pointer before Trevon Snoddy connected to cut the deficit to 74-73 with 7.2 seconds on the clock.
Lone Peak took a five-second call before inbounding the ball, leaving the Falcons with just .5 seconds showing. Snoddy – who was magnificent in his final high school game with 31 points and 14 rebounds – was the target of a lob pass but Lone Peak’s Nixon Ruffner tipped the ball away as the clock expired.
“We were trying to stay aggressive but that press that they have, they are so long and we just got tentative,” Lone Peak coach Rob Ross said. “Even though we were trying to spread them out we were still looking to attack gaps and shoot 3’s and get layup and little jumpers in the middle. Skyridge did a really good job. Eventually our guys figured it out a little bit and got some good looks.”
Ross said he and the coaching staff installed a new offense before the playoffs that spread the floor and it worked extremely well against Skyridge. The racehorse pace and attacking style freed up Jensen and 6-8 big man Cameron Brimhall (26 points) for open looks as Lone Peak took a 23-11 lead after the first period and the advantage was 35-24 at the break.
Brimhall scored twice and Corbin Zentner converted a steal into a layup for a 17-point lead, 46-29, with 3:52 to play in the third quarter. At that point, Skyridge was able to get back into the game with its press and Snoddy’s dynamic post presence. The Knights, who played in six overtime games this season and had beaten Lone Peak twice, fell just short of coming back all the way.
“For us in Year 4, those kids (Snoddy and senior guard Braden Housley) have been with us from the beginning,” Skyridge coach Jeff Gardner said. “The seniors are a special group and we’re going to miss then dearly. They showed their character battling and continuing to fight. It’s a great group great on the floor and a great group off the floor. It’s been an honor to coach them.”
Housley finished with 22 points and Duncan Reid added 12 for Skyridge (18-7).
Lone Peak (14-10) ended up shooting 52 percent (26 of 50) from the field was 15 of 18 from the line to help withstand the Falcons’ furious rally.
“Give credit to the guys on that,” Ross said. “We were out of time outs with a few minutes left in the game but they kept their heads. We were trying to be aggressive. We told them to try to attack those guys and we’ll live with the consequences.”
The Knights will take on top seed Davis (22-1) in Friday’s semifinals, which topped No. 9 Westlake 62-49 in the quarterfinals. Lone Peak, which was considered one of the top teams in 6A at the beginning of the season, lost senior guards Jared Burton and Hunter Hannemann to knee injuries in December but has grown from the adversity.
“Yeah, people may look at us as a Cinderella team but we’re one of the top teams in the state,” Jensen said.