The Tooele Buffaloes played in a tune-up game against the Ogden Tigers on Monday and needed it after a cold shooting night, but they hung on for a 50-36 victory.
The Buffaloes and Tigers scratched and clawed at each other in the first half, leading to a 17-16 lead for the Buffaloes at halftime. The Buffaloes strung shots together and got stops in the third quarter to create a cushion, which led to the eventual 14-point win.
“It was my fear coming in that we would play ugly basketball,” said THS head coach Shawn Faux about the team’s first game back after the Christmas hiatus. “Defensively I was very happy with (the team’s performance), but offensively we were out of rhythm. We forced a lot things, and we got away from playing team basketball. It’s an ugly win, but it’s a win.”
Both teams had tough starts to their shooting; the first basket of the game didn’t come until the 5:09 mark of the first quarter. Ace Hymas picked up an offensive rebound on a miss by Tyler Lawrence, and Hymas put the ball back in for a layup and a 2-0 lead.
The Buffaloes started the game on a 9-0 run, capped by a fastbreak layup from Matt Memmott after an Ogden miss. That fastbreak play from Memmott came after Ogden called a timeout with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Ogden called the timeout after Lawrence drained a 3-pointer.
But Ogden battled back in the second quarter, outscoring Tooele 12-6 to pull the score back to 17-16. Despite Ogden’s feistiness, Tooele never surrendered the lead. The closest the Tigers came was the halftime score.
Tooele then opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer by Justin Pollmann, leading to a 15-7 run that gave the Buffaloes just enough of a cushion to close the game in the fourth quarter. And the ability to close out Ogden came on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defensively I can’t say enough,” Faux said. “I challenged them that we needed to start holding opponents under 50 points. So there’s a lot of good that came from that type of game, but there’s some things that we’ll have on tape now that we can work on.”
One of those areas Tooele wants to work on is fighting through a full-court press. The Tigers switched to a press in the second half to force turnovers by Tooele, and it worked. The Buffaloes turned the ball over 18 times Monday night.
“When we execute the press, and we run it the right way, we get layups,” Faux said. “The more and more we go I think you’ll start to see more teams try to press us and slow us down. I think that’s something we’ve got to get used to. We call it press offense for a reason because we’re looking to score out of it, not just break the press. When we ran it right, we scored out of it, so that’s what we need to get more consistent at doing.”
Faux said fighting through the rustiness of the break from school and basketball was important in this game, especially with the team playing three games in three days this weekend in Cedar City.
“It’s good for [the Buffaloes’] mindset and good for what we need to do,” Faux said. “We can build off of it and hopefully use the momentum going into Cedar.”
In 2012, Tooele went right into the Steve Hodson Cancer Classic in Cedar City after the UHSAA moratorium without having a tune-up game beforehand. Faux said this game against Ogden allowed Tooele to make mistakes and get back into the groove of playing basketball.