Just when it looked like the game was headed to overtime, senior guard Dylan Defa sank a desperate shot from the sideline Cowboy logo that gave Grantsville a 71-68 win over South Summit on Wednesday.
“I knew we had barely any time, and I saw Ammon (Bartley) passing the ball in, and everyone was keying in on Ryan (Potter) or Brady (Arbon) or whoever was over there,” Defa said. “I yelled his name, looked up at the clock and there were about four seconds left. I took two more dribbles and threw it up there.”
Defa’s shot negated a game-tying 3-pointer made with six seconds left by South Summit senior guard Justin Worthen — this one also from fairly deep range, just off a screen on the left side.
“We needed one stop; the well-contested shot. I said ‘hey, probably should have just let him shoot it, and he’d probably’ve missed,’” South Summit head coach Dustin Hatch joked after the game. “It was a great game, great game. Well-played by both teams, I felt like.
“My guys executed great on the last play,” Hatch added. “We hit the 3 to tie it up, and sometimes that just happens.”
Grantsville and South Summit both had chances to put the game away with a minute left. Wildcat senior forward Ryan Griffin — who chipped in 10 points for the visitors — turned the ball over with 51 seconds left, only to get a steal in a full-court press and go to the line with a chance to pull within one. He missed both free throws. But in the ensuing possession, the Wildcats got another steal and Griffin scored on a drive to the basket, making it 66-65 Grantsville with 34 seconds left.
“We got some stops there at the end when we needed them,” Grantsville head coach Bryan Detweiler said. “Granted, the last one wasn’t the stop that we needed.”
Grantsville senior guard Kevin Roberts was fouled going to the basket the next time down the court and made both free throws with 21 seconds left, setting the stage for Worthen and Defa’s last-second 3-pointers.
“I think little things led to some easier shots,” Detweiler said. “Hands were down on defense, not really a full, good high-hand challenge, and they started knocking down shots.”
Grantsville led early, going on a 13-0 run over four minutes of the first and second quarters. But the Cowboys stopped playing defense, Detweiler said, letting South Summit climb back into the game and cutting it a two-point deficit at the half.
Midway through the third quarter and down by six, South Summit started hitting from outside. Worthen and junior guard Jared Dansie each made two 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a 42-41 lead — their first since the first quarter. South Summit made 10 shots from deep during the loss.
Worthen led all scorers with 32 points, and Dansie had 12 points from four second-half 3s.
Grantsville senior forward Brady Arbon had a team-high 20 points, junior forward Isaac Riding had 12, and Roberts had 10.
“It’s good to be 1-0, but we need to learn our lesson to come out and be consistent in the whole game,” Arbon said.
Defa finished with five points, having made a putback layup in the second quarter to go with his buzzer-beating heroics.
“They play really hard,” Hatch said of the Cowboys. “What really hurt us was the way we rebounded. To be honest, that’s one of our strengths — We usually out-rebound teams, and we didn’t even come close tonight.”
Grantsville is now 11-5 overall and 1-0 in Region 13 action, and will next face Morgan on the road Wednesday. South Summit (8-5, 0-1) will face Morgan at home Friday.
“Our region is pretty deep and pretty solid,” Detweiler said. “There’re going to be a lot of good games like that the whole region season.”
Author’s note: Tavin Stucki has covered prep sports in Utah for more than nine years. This story was not subject to the approval of the Grantsville basketball program.