Jeff Gardner has an equation that has resulted in some big Region 4 road wins this season for his Skyridge boys basketball team.
What do you expect from a math teacher?
“We like to say that that toughness plus want-to equals road wins,” Gardner said after Friday’s 89-82 overtime victory at Westlake. “That’s our mantra. You’ve got to have toughness and you’ve got to have want-to. You’ve got to have tough kids because you can’t replicate an environment like we had tonight or having to go make a play with that kind of crowd.”
The Falcons won at Lone Peak on Jan. 28 and picked up another big road win in front of a packed house at Westlake, but it didn’t come easily. Twice Skyridge led by double digits but the Thunder just kept making runs to get back in the game.
Braden Housley had 26 points, four assists and four steals and Trevon Snoddy posted 25 points for the Falcons.
“I love this team more than anything,” Housley said. “We’ve been through so much together. We’re all homies and we’ve been through this since we were in ninth grade. This is our senior year and we’ve got to get it done.”
The Falcons led 45-33 early in the third quarter on a Housley 3-point play and by ten, 68-58, with six minutes to play. But Westlake kept finding ways back into the game and took a 70-69 lead on a Willy Jensen 3-pointer with 3:36 remaining.
Parker Nelson’s driving basket gave the Thunder a 74-72 advantage with 1:43 to play but Snoddy responded with a basket to tie it up at 74 with 1:30 on the clock. Both teams missed critical free throws in the final minute to force the overtime session.
The game was tied at 78 when Snoddy scored on a putback, followed by four free throws from Housley and Duncan Reid for an 84-78 Skyridge lead with 1:05 remaining in overtime. The Falcons, who missed nine free throws in the fourth quarter alone, made nine of 10 at the stripe in the overtime to hold on for the win.
“I’ll tell you, there’s not a better coached team than Westlake,” Gardner said. “After totally turning their roster over, they have a lot of young players. Nate Carling has done a really good job with that team, and I think them coming back against us was an indication of that.”
As for his own team, Gardner said, “Defensively things got away from us for a stretch but we did a good job regrouping and getting stops when we needed to. They are tough kids. There were times that we could have faltered but they pulled together and made some big plays.”
Noah McCord had 22 points for Westlake (3-5, 12-8) and Nelson added 20.
Skyridge is at Pleasant Grove next Tuesday and finishes up league play at home against Lone Peak on Friday. Westlake is at American Fork on Tuesday and hosts Pleasant Grove on Friday.