SALT LAKE CITY – It’s pretty easy to see where No. 11 Pleasant Grove lost its 6A quarterfinal to No. 3 Layton.
When you see a “26” on your opponent’s side of the scoreboard and only “8” in your own, that is a problem.
The No. 2 Lancers rode that big second quarter to a 22-point lead in the third quarter but had to fend off a furious rally by the Vikings before locking down a 73-59 victory on Wednesday in the Huntsman Center.
“Playing for your life, you do things maybe you shouldn’t have had to do, right?” Pleasant Grove coach Randy McAllister said. “You don’t have to play that desperate if you just played smarter early. I’m proud of them. Our young boys got some great experience. I’m disappointed in the way we played, mainly the second quarter. That eight minutes kind of was the ball game.”
Layton – which starts 6-foot-11, 6-8 and 6-7 on its front line – turned a 9-8 first quarter lead into a 33-17 halftime advantage with the big second quarter. Ethan Potter (11 points) and Tanner Kofoed (nine points) were the top performers as the Lancers superior size caused all sorts of problems for Pleasant Grove, including missed shots (just 7 of 23 from the field) and turnovers (12).
Kofoed scored all nine of his second quarter points during a 19-4 burst, and his corner 3-pointer gave the Lancers that 16-point halftime lead.
McAllister said the psychological effect of Layton’s size was apparent in the first half.
“The first quarter wasn’t bad but the second quarter we absolutely fell apart,” McAllister said. “When you attack the rim against taller players and jump off one foot, you’re playing into their hands. They can easily deflect your shot or cause you to shoot a bad shot.”
Potter, a 6-8 junior, dominated the game with 28 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, two assists and a block. His follow dunk gave Layton a commanding 45-23 lead midway through the third quarter. Pleasant Grove rallied by applying full-court pressure and got 10 points off the bench in the third quarter from McCaden Adams. An Adams basket and a 3-pointer from Andrew Williams trimmed the deficit to 13, 55-42, entering the fourth quarter.
The Vikings kept getting turnovers (21 total) and back-to-back triples from Kael Mikkelsen and Jordan Ross brought PG to within six, 61-55, with 3:48 remaining. The Vikings had three good looks at a 3-pointer but couldn’t get any to fall. Tanner Kofoed scored five straight points, including a 3-point play, and Potter had seven points as Layton pulled away in the final two minutes.
Kofoed added 21 points, five assists and three timely steals for Layton (21-2), which advanced to the semifinals on Friday against No. 2 Fremont, which eliminated No. 10 West Jordan 77-54 in the quarterfinals. Three of the four teams in Friday’s semifinals are from Region 1 (Layton, Davis and Fremont) with one from Region 4 (Lone Peak).
Adams led No. 11 Pleasant Grove (15-11) with 15 points, Mikkelsen had 13 and Isaac Vaha added 11.
Pleasant Grove lost four starters from last year’s Class 6A runners-up, so a quarterfinal exit this year, while disappointing, was a pretty good year.
“Kael was the one that was the experience guy we were counting on with all the games he’d played at the varsity level,” McAllister said. “I thought Jamari (Egbert), Preston (Bushman) and Andrew grew so much this year. They were maybe young varsity players at the beginning of the year, but they finished the season as senior veterans and their leadership was huge all year for us in bringing the younger guys along. We’re excited about what we have coming back.”