5A boys' basketball: Copper Hills claws past Hunter
Copper Hills may be a team full of underclassmen.
But whenever challenged by Hunter on the big stage of the Huntsman Center floor Tuesday, the Grizzlies reacted like veterans. When the Wolverines cut a sizable deficit to two points, Copper Hills responded. When it happened again in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies made the big buckets.
As a result, Copper Hills advanced to the second round of the Class 5A state tournament, courtesy of a 55-47 win over Hunter. The Grizzlies will face Davis in Thursday's quarterfinal. And they will need every bit of that moxie to compete with the Darts and the likes of Jesse Wade and Abel Porter.
"Davis is a great team," Copper Hills coach Andrew Blanchard said. "They're one of the great teams in this state. We have a young team, but those guys responded well. I was happy with the way we played."
Blanchard had to be excited by the way his team found a way to come out on top, even when open looks weren't falling. The Grizzlies shot just 32 percent from the field and 3 of 15 from 3-point range. But they controlled the rebounding battle 45-34, made 24 of 31 free throws and received several big shots down the stretch from Preston Sanchez.
Plus Copper Hills played great defensively. Hunter shot just 27 percent from the field and 3 of 22 from beyond the arc. Had Utah commit Noah Togiai not been on the floor, this could have been much uglier.
Togiai, a junior guard, led all scorers with 21 points. But he didn't have nearly enough help from his teammates, and the Copper Hills defense made him work for everything he produced.
"We just wanted to hold him three points under his average," Blanchard said. "We denied him whenever possible, and I thought that made an impact."
Sophomore big man Porter Hawkins led the Grizzlies with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Copper Hills 55, Hunter 47
O Copper Hills improves to 14-8.
• The Grizzlies advance to the quarterfinal round to face Davis.
• Copper Hills sophomore Porter Hawkins scores 14 points and adds 10 rebounds.