Heading to overtime at any level of basketball always tests the heart and resiliency of both teams. The players have been playing hard for a full regulation contest so adding an extra period isn’t easy.
The Springville and Salem Hills boys basketball teams found themselves in just that situation Friday night in a big Region 8 battle in Salem.
Both squads made great plays to force OT but when the additional four minutes of basketball began, it was the Red Devils that were able to be just slightly quicker to rebounds and loose balls.
That translated into points on the scoreboard as Springville was able to pull away and earn the 63-51 overtime win over the Skyhawks.
“Somebody but was bound to make a shot in overtime and get a feel for things,” Red Devils head coach Justin Snell said. “When we missed, we were able to come up with a chunk of loose balls.”
He singled out senior guard Austin Mortensen for spearheading the hustle that ended up giving Springville the victory.
“He plays super-hard,” Snell said. “Boston is our guy from a defensive standpoint. When we look at the plus-minus ratio after a game or a season, he always has the highest plus on the team. When he’s on the floor, everyone has to match his energy or he gets on them. He’s always been that way.”
The contest was an exciting, back-and-forth battle throughout the contest but ended up tied at 47-47 with time winding down.
With 10 seconds left, Springville went hard to the basket but the shot refused to drop. Red Devil senior center Zach Visentin muscles down the offensive rebound and put it in to put the goodies in front with 8.8 seconds left.
Salem Hills came back down the floor and was fouled with just under give seconds left.
“They had files to give but we were lucky they filed us because we were out of timeouts and it helped us set up a play,” Skyhawk head coach Blake Francom said. “We had multiple options on that inbounds play and the third one opened up.”
Salem Hills junior guard Austin Hallows rifled a great pass to senior center Derek Burton in the paint and Burton spun to the basket for a layup to the things up again and force the extra frame.
But things didn’t go as well for the home team early in overtime.
“The stretch that turned the game came early on when Derek had the ball under the basket and we thought he got fouled but he didn’t get the call,” Francom said. “Then at the other end he got whistled on a tough call and that was his fifth foul. That hurt us, particularly with how he was playing so hard against their center. He did a great job but just ended up with too many fouls.”
Some fortunate bounces and the effort of Mortensen sparked Springville and the Red Devils took the lead while shutting down the Salem Hills offense.
Springville was led by 17 point from Visentin while senior guard Paul Terry tacked on 15. The Skyhawks were paced by 13 points from senior guard Gavin Hardy.
Snell said the lesson he hopes his team learns from the narrow win is to keep its composure.
“No matter what, we have to be us,” Snell said. “We have to keep our composure and realize it will all be OK if we are playing hard and focus on ourselves.”
Francom hopes his squad realizes that it can consistently compete at a high level.
“I told the boys that we can beat anyone in the state,” Francom said. “We’ve got to fix some things where we are hurting ourselves but we guard well enough to keep us in games. Hopefully we are confident that we can be a team that is tough to beat.”
Springville (11-3, 5-0) faces Wasatch in Heber on Jan. 21, while Salem Hills (6-8, 3-2) plays at Maple Mountain the same day.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.