The quarterfinal round of the 4A state boys basketball tournament in Cedar City was all about one word for both Region 10 teams:
The Payson players kept their composure, even when trailing by as many as 12 points to hot-shooting Green Canyon.
Orem players, on the other hand, let their composure get away from them in the final quarter against Bear River.
The results were evident in how the games ended as the Lions rallied to defeat the Wolves, 76-74, when guard Kade Rowley made the game-winning layup with four seconds to play.
The Tigers saw the Bears pull away over the final few minutes to get the 80-56 win and eliminate Orem from the playoffs.
“We didn’t do what we’ve been doing all season,” Tiger head coach Golden Holt said. “We didn’t execute what we have been doing through our winning streak and that was frustrating. Bear River took advantage and did execute.”
The Tigers did have a stretch where they played well, taking a four-point lead in the third quarter, but Holt said things fell apart.
As the Bears pulled away, Orem started letting the frustrations out.
“We didn’t finish game well,” Holt said. “We didn’t show good sportsmanship and I wasn’t happy about that. I try to teach boys how to win but more importantly how to lose. I don’t we think did a good job at that today. The emotion got in the way of execution. We wanted to win so badly and did our best, but it wasn’t what we wanted.”
Multiple Tigers fouled out and got assessed technical fouls in the final quarter as tempers flared.
Orem was led by 16 points from Carter Nehmer, who drained four 3-pointers. Ike Richards tallied 12 points, while Puka Nacua added 11 points for the Tigers.
The Bears were led by 21 points from Mark Huber as four Bear River players scored 13 points or more.
Holt said he told his players in the locker room that learning to deal with frustration is a crucial life skill.
“I told them that we’re playing basketball here and we have to learn to manage emotions because life will throw the same things at us,” Holt said. “What will we do when life throws curve balls at us? That’s what I believe in teaching and learning through basketball.”
He did laud the way Payson played their game, earning a spot in the 4A semifinals with a big win.
“They got down big but kept their poise,” Holt said.
The Lions fell behind early against the Wolves as Green Canyon drained six 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Eventually Payson trailed 28-16 in the second quarter, but the Wolf sharpshooters started cooling off and the Lions tied the game at halftime.
Neither team could create a significant lead in the final two quarters but always answered each other’s runs.
It was the Lions, however, who made the final play to get the win.
As he has all year, senior Logan Sorensen led the way for Payson with 21 points, while Hayden Roundy and Samuel Mitchell added 16 points each.
Spencer Panter paced Green Canyon with 18 points.
The two squads combined for an impressive shooting exhibition, totaling 29 3-pointers (18 for Green Canyon, 11 for Payson).
The Lions now advance to the 4A semifinals as part of a wide-open field. All top seeds have been eliminated, meaning three No. 2 seeds and a No. 4 seed are still alive.
Payson will take on Sky View in their semifinal contest, battling the surging Bobcats at Southern Utah University in Cedar City at 7:30 p.m. on Friday with a spot in Saturday’s 4A title game on the line.