When the Provo boys basketball team found itself trailing a very good Farmington team by 14 points midway through the third quarter of Tuesday’s 5A quarterfinal game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, it appeared the Bulldogs were in trouble.
But, just like they have all season, Provo refused to stay down.
The Bulldogs mounted a furious rally and actually pulled in front before the Phoenix tied things up to force overtime. In the extra frame, Farmington was able to make one more play and make its free throws as they barely held off Provo to get the 78-76 OT win.
“Our guys were dialed in and focused,” Bulldog head coach Don Johnson said. “We knew Farmington was solid and we needed to show up. When we got behind, I just kept telling them to keep working, to keep fighting. We battled back and had our opportunities. The ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
The Bulldogs went up 70-67 late in regulation but could only get one of their next four free throws to go in.
The Phoenix got two foul shots of their own and then got a layup with a foul that could’ve given Farmington the lead with 10 seconds left to play — but that one didn’t go in either.
Provo got the rebound off the miss and pushed the ball quickly down the court, appearing to have a fast-break opportunity. But the officials had to stop the play because the clock hadn’t started, forcing the Bulldogs to reset.
Provo got the ball to senior forward Gabe Gutierrez, who led all scorers with 25 points, and he drove hard to the basket but couldn’t get the shot to drop at the buzzer.
Farmington got one layup and made all five shots from the charity stripe in the extra frame, which proved to be just enough as the Bulldogs couldn’t get the game-tying free throws to go in with under a second to play.
In addition to Gutierrez’s big game, Provo also got 20 points and 15 rebounds from junior center Juan Camargo, while Bulldog senior Lincoln Prager and junior Isaac Castagnetto added 14 points apiece.
Although Provo wasn’t quite able to reach the 5A semifinals, Johnson said he was proud of everything his team was able to do.
“I told our players after the game that we opened some eyes,” Johnson said. “Our program has been down a little bit but we have worked to establish a culture where people respect us again. We sent the message today that we are going to battle everyone.”
He said his squad — including eight seniors — taught him a lot this year.
“This was a group that stuck together and got along,” Johnson said. “They worked to change the culture and be one solid group. It’s been a process for me as a coach and it can be a tough job but the reward is these kids and seeing them work and improve. You get paid with those things.”
Farmington advanced to Thursday’s 5A semifinal where it will face Timpview in a game scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.