Welcome to first place in Region 7.
The Timpanogos boys basketball team moved to the top of the region on Friday with a tense 47-46 win against Lehi, surviving by hitting critical free throws and, as it turned out, missing one late.
Jackson Holcombe made four clutch foul shots in the last 33 seconds for Timpanogos. With 2.2 seconds remaining and the Timberwolves up by just a point, Caleb Nimmer missed his first free throw and then missed his second intentionally since Lehi didn’t have any time outs left. All the Pioneers could do was throw up a full-court shot that was well off the mark.
With the Utah High School Activities Association moving to an RPI system to seed the state playoffs, winning a region championship perhaps isn’t as meaningful. But Timpanogos (4-1 Region 7, 13-3 overall) is focused on repeating anyway.
“We’ve won three region championships in a row and we don’t want to be the team that stops that tradition,” Holcombe said. “No matter if region helps you get in the state championship or not, we’re doing the best we can to get the highest seed so we’re trying to win every game.”
Lehi’s relentless quickness and defensive pressure got Timpanogos off stride early. The Pioneers forced two turnovers and scored seven points in less than a minute to take a quick 7-0 lead. Lehi made four 3-pointers in the first quarter, the last by Tyson Hawkins, for a 16-10 advantage. The second quarter belonged to Timpanogos, which outscored the visitors 17-5. Nine of those points came at the foul line – 5 by Nimmer — and the Timberwolves extended their lead to 6, 27-21 at halftime.
“That second quarter, we had to throw a couple of sophomores (Dave Peterson and Jaxon Vanchiere) out there because we were missing a couple of guys and three guys all got two fouls,” Timpanogos coach Israel Ingle said. “We had to go deep in our bench and those guys won’t get a lot of credit and they probably had no idea they were going to play tonight. But they stepped up really big and helped us weather the storm.”
Timpanogos led 34-31 entering the fourth quarter but Hawkins scored the first two baskets of the period to give Lehi the lead at 35-34.
Holcombe, who sat out almost the whole first half after he picked up two quick fouls, was key in an 8-0 run for the Timberwolves. He secured an offensive rebound and fed Nimmer for a basket, then assisted to Nimmer for another score the next time down the floor. Gavin Scott banged in a 3-pointer and Timpanogos took a 42-35 lead with 3:57 remaining.
“We tend to take advantage of matchup with my size,” Holcombe said. “The coaches try to put me in the best place to help us win and that’s what’s awesome.”
Lehi, which was undefeated in league play until Tuesday’s loss to Timpview, wouldn’t go away and a 3-pointer by Blake Hill brought the Pioneers back to within two, 43-41, with 2:14 to play. Nimmer made two free throws for a 45-41 Timpanogos lead, but Spencer Dean stole a rebound from the home team after a Lehi miss and scored to close the gap to two again, 45-43, with 20.2 seconds showing.
Nimmer made two more free throws but Noah Gonsalves banked in a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds to play to cut the Lehi deficit to one, 47-46.
Nimmer, who led Timpanogos with 16 points, missed his free throws and Lehi didn’t have enough time to get a good shot.
Timpanogos will travel to Alta on Tuesday.
“Lehi was extremely well prepared and they did something no one has really done to us, which is press,” Ingle said. “They were ready and jumped on us early with that relentless pressure. I don’t know that we did a great job against the press but I was proud of the way the guys adjusted. We just have to be ready earlier next time.”
Gonsalves led Lehi (4-2, 8-8) with 17 points and Hill added 10. The Pioneers will play at Mountain Ridge next Friday.