Wednesday’s Region 10 boys basketball game at Tooele High School between Uintah and Tooele was close — until it wasn’t.
Tooele was clinging to a two-point lead with five minutes left in the third quarter after Uintah’s Josh Speirs converted a conventional three-point play. For the first time since early in the second quarter, the Buffaloes’ lead seemed to be in danger. However, the Buffs had other ideas, launching a 14-3 run to take control of an eventual 61-42 victory.
Shortly after Speirs pulled the Utes (7-5, 3-3 Region 10) within two points at 31-29, Tooele senior Justin Rogers drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to jump-start the Buffs (8-8, 4-2). Later, after a Uintah timeout, Pacesen McLaws knocked down a trey of his own to extend the lead to 37-30. Rogers added a bucket and two free throws, Julian Mahoe had a layup and McLaws added two more free throws to put Tooele in front 45-32 with just over a minute left in the quarter.
The Utes went on an 8-2 run over the final minute of the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth, pulling to within eight points on a 3-pointer and a layup by Speirs. But Tooele put the game completely out of reach with a 12-1 run over a span of 4:28, taking a 58-40 lead. Rogers, who finished with a game-high 28 points, had just three points during the run, but he also had a picture-perfect pass to Mahoe for a layup. Trevor Zaleski converted an and-one to cap the run with 2:12 left in the game.
Tooele trailed just once in the game after Uintah’s Daniel Wright hit two free throws with 6:34 left in the first quarter to put the Utes up 2-0. That marked the beginning of an 11-2 Buffaloes run that included the first of McLaws’ three 3-pointers in the game, as well as four points from Rogers and two each from Mahoe and McCade Laughlin.
Uintah went on a 9-2 run to tie the score at 13-13, aided by Morgan Mansfield’s halfcourt buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter. But the Utes never quite got over the hump, as McLaws hit his second 3 of the night on the Buffs’ next possession to begin a 10-3 run that put Tooele in front for good. Nathan Begnaud hit a 3-pointer and picked off a steal that led to an easy layup in transition as part of the outburst.
McLaws had 13 points for the Buffaloes, while Mahoe finished with 10. Begnaud had five points, Zaleski had three and Laughlin finished with two.
Speirs had 17 points to lead the Utes and Kamon Anderson added 10. Mansfield had nine points, all on 3-pointers, and Wright had six.
Tooele enters Friday’s rivalry road game against Stansbury in a tie with Cedar Valley for second place in the Region 10 standings, two games behind first-place Juan Diego. Uintah and Stansbury are a game behind Tooele in a tie for fourth.
Following Friday’s game, the Buffaloes will play host to Ogden on Wednesday before traveling to Ben Lomond on Feb. 5.