ST. GEORGE – Being the favored team in a playoff game doesn’t always equate to four quarters of a walk in the park. Sometimes it’s just two and half quarters. Just ask Snow Canyon.
The Warriors overcame a slow start on both ends of the court and eventually pulled away for a 77-62 first-round playoff victory Friday over visiting Park City.
The Miners surprised everyone and stormed out of the gate to an eight-point lead in the first quarter and held the advantage after the quarter. Boston Vanderveur and Hayden Daily made the most of their open looks and knocked down trey after trey to help power the Park City run and for a moment it seemed like the hometown team was in trouble.
“It’s different when you’re expected to win [than] when you’re not,” Warriors coach James Brown said. “They had nothing to lose. There’s a little pressure when you know that you’re supposed to win. We’ve got to do a better job with (handling) pressure.”
But as expected, Snow Canyon finally came alive during the second quarter.
Trailing 27-20 early in the second, Gabe Jensen knocked down a triple of his own to spark a 16-4 Snow Canyon run and the Warriors took over. Jensen nailed another 3-pointer later in the run and SC held a 36-31 lead heading into the locker room.
“It wasn’t just me, it was our team,” Jensen said. “We started running the court a lot better. That was helping me get my shot off.”
The second half went according to script and the Warriors pushed the lead to double-digits behind 3-pointers from Brendan Truman, Spencer Call and Kallan Webster. Chandler Gines added nine of his 14 points after the intermission and junior Hayden Andersen added seven second-half points to finish with 12.
And not lost in the frenzy of the comeback was the effort of big man Nate Gottfredson. While the defense was still sluggish and the lid still on the hoop for the Warriors, Gottfredson (21 points, 12 rebounds) battled down low for second chances and kept Snow Canyon in the game until it made its run.
“Coach Brown was talking to me before and he told me it was a big night for me,” Gottfredson said. “I had to get the boards because they were going to be coming hard. I really focused on trying to clean up down there. We’ve definitely shot better, but they eventually started to fall.”
With the win, the Warriors advance to the quarterfinals at Weber State University, where they will take on Ben Lomond (58-45 winners over Delta) on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
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