A heartbreaking close loss at home Saturday night foiled Grantsville’s bid to continue its basketball season.
The Cowboys cut a 10-point third-quarter CHS lead down to 45-44 with less than 30 seconds to go in the game, but Cedar senior guard Kordan Nielson hit four-of-four foul shots in those final 30 seconds to help the Redmen survive a Grantsville comeback and claim a 50-45 first-round state playoff victory on the road.
The Redmen advance to the quarterfinals against Juan Diego Thursday morning in their home city at the 3A state tourney at Southern Utah University.
“We played well against a very good team. I told the kids after that we just ran out of time,” said Grantsville coach Chris Baker.
Grantsville cut the lead to 45-44 when Tyler Colson’s 3-point shot from the corner settled into the basket after a couple of bounces on the rim and a bounce off the glass.
Cedar kept the ball in the hands of leading scorer and sharp-shooter Nielson. He sank two foul shots to make it 47-44 with 18 seconds to go. Grantsville missed a contested inside shot on its next possession, and trailed 48-44 after a foul shot by 6-foot-8-inch post player Dustin Staggs with six seconds remaining. The Cowboys cut it to 48-45 on a foul shot by Devin Adams with 2.4 seconds to go, and then Nielson hit two more foul shots with one second left in the game.
Staggs was difficult to handle for the Cowboys. He averages 14.41 points per game, but scored 24 on Saturday night, his third-highest single-game point total of the year. Nielson scored 15, three points below his average.
“This loss will hurt for a while. I’m super proud of the boys and their accomplishments this year. We’re going to pull for Cedar the rest of the way. Their coach and players were super cool after the game. He told me he knew it was a tough draw for both teams,” Baker said.
Cedar had won six of its last seven Region 9 games. A 46-44 loss at home to Snow Canyon (9-3) prevented the Redmen from winning the region title. The Redmen, Pine View and Desert Hills finished tied for second with 8-4 records. Cedar ended up a fourth seed after coin flips. Snow Canyon, Pine View and Cedar all won in the first round. The only survivor for Region 11 was Bear River, which defeated Desert Hills by 10 in overtime in Garland.
Adams hit his first two shots for the Cowboys and the game was tied 5-5 after the first five minutes. Staggs matched Adams’ output with four points in the first quarter and Cedar led 7-5.
Grantsville tied the game at 9-9 midway through the second quarter on a layup by Spencer Lawrence with an assist from Jake Riding.
After another basket and free throw from Staggs, Dallin Williams drilled a corner 3-pointer to slice the lead to 14-13. With 1:35 left in the first half, Williams drove hard to the hoop for a basket to tie it at 16-16. Devon Arellano grabbed an offensive rebound and put it in to level the game at 18-18 at intermission.
Cedar scored the first six points of the third quarter on two inside baskets by Staggs and a pull-up jumper by Nielson. Grantsville got a basket from Adams, but Staggs’ third third-quarter basket off an offensive rebound made it 28-20 with four minutes left in third period. The Redmen grabbed their biggest lead of the game at 30-20 with 1:50 left in the third quarter on another inside basket from Staggs.
Grantsville finished with a flurry of points to close out the third quarter. Riding scored inside on a crisp pass from Nick Arbon. Grantsville swiped the ball and Arellano knocked down a corner 3-pointer. Grantsville played suffocating defense the final 30 seconds of the third quarter and only trailed 30-26.
The rally continued in the fourth quarter when Arbon drained a 3-pointer from the angle to slice the lead to 30-29, but Cedar scored seven in a row to lead 36-29. Grantsville came back with baskets from Adams and Lawrence to slice the lead to 36-33 with 4:22 left in the contest.
Grantsville kept it tight in the final seconds with a baseline drive by Arellano, a pair of drives from Adams and two foul shots. Cedar countered with a 3-pointer from Kyle Wood, foul shots from Nielson and a basket by Jaren Forsythe.
Cedar was able to hold on to its slim lead by making foul shots after Colson’s 3-pointer sliced it to 45-44.
Adams led the way with 17 points and six rebounds. Arellano added 10 points. Colson recorded four rebounds.
“This was just a great bunch of unselfish players. We will certainly miss those eight seniors,” Baker said. “They were able to bring pride back to the Grantsville basketball program.”
Seniors on the team were Arbon, Riding, Lawrence, Arellano, Colson, Ky Fisher, Williams and Adams.