Tom Griffith’s 3-point basket broke an early 7-7 tie, and Stansbury never trailed the rest of the game en route to a 76-71 victory over rival Tooele Friday night on the Buffaloes’ home court
The Stallions grabbed their biggest lead at 44-31 early in the third quarter, and still held the 13-point advantage at 54-41 after three quarters.
Tooele sliced into the lead twice in the fourth quarter. The Buffaloes cut it to 57-53 early in the fourth after a rebound by Lincoln Powers who passed to Matt Memmott for a layup.
Stansbury pushed the lead back to 11 midway through the final quarter after a steal and driving layup by Gage Manzione.
Tooele whittled its deficit back down to five points after a driving layup by Justin Pollmann, and only trailed by four points at 68-64 with two foul shots from Ryan Brady with 2 minutes left in the game.
Stansbury fended off the Tooele rally with a pair of strong offensive plays by Griffith. He drove to the hoop for a basket with 1:50 left in the game, and then knocked down a short jumper to give the Stallions a 72-66 advantage with 1:10 remaining. Griffith led his team in scoring with 20 points.
“Near the end of the game I told the players to run the offense and get layups and finish the game,” said Stansbury coach Rich Lakin. “They took a couple of jump shots I wasn’t too happy about, but the main thing was they finished strong.”
The Buffaloes got a big lift when Tyler Lawrence drained a 3-point shot to slice the lead to 74-71 with 13 second left in the game.
It seemed like the Buffs had fouled the right player when they grabbed Manzione with 5.9 seconds to go. Manzione had hit only 5-of-13 free throws up until then.
The junior stepped to the line, connected on the first free throw and pumped his arm in celebration of icing the victory.
“It’s all mental. You just have to go up to the line and know that you can convert,” Manzione said. “I knew my team would have my back regardless. We’re a band of brothers; we play as a team. Playing against Tooele is always an emotional game, and the fans definitely have an effect. We respect Tooele; they’re a good team.”
Mazione also knocked down the second free throw to give Stansbury a five-point victory.
Stansbury’s Justin May scored the first points of the game with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. May was on fire all night connecting on four of the Stallions’ six 3-pointers for the game. Griffith popped the other two 3-pointers.
May and Mazione also were terrific with their offensive rebounding. Each recorded six offensive caroms in the game to keep the ball alive for the Stallions on offense.
May, however, fouled out with 6:05 left in the game. Another starter, Taylor Graves, fouled out with 2:01 remaining.
“The good thing is we have four or five players who can step in and play well. We are a deep team,” Lakin said.
Stansbury raced out to a 24-17 first-quarter lead with five 3-pointers in the opening stanza. May drilled his second 3-pointer from the corner to make it 15-9 SHS with 3:50 remaining, Griffith connected from 3-point land and then May hit a third 3-pointer in the first quarter to make it 22-15.
“When you start hot you have a tendency to stay hot,” Lakin said. “We cooled off a bit later in the game. I think a big key is that we were able to control the tempo of the game.”
Tooele coach Shawn Faux said his team team was not as prepared to play the important region as was Stansbury. He said they were out of sync for most of the game and didn’t get it going until the fourth quarter when the Buffaloes outscored the Stallions 30-22.
“We made them feel comfortable right from the start. Hats off to the Stansbury players and their coaching staff. We weren’t as prepared as we need to be. They came out and competed hard and took it to us,” Faux said.
“We didn’t run our style of basketball until the end of the fourth quarter. Our players know that they are a better team than what they showed tonight.”
The coach said his team got thoroughly outworked on the boards and gave up 15 offensive rebounds in the first half. “Some teams don’t give up that many offensive rebounds in an entire game.”
The Stallions held onto their first-quarter lead and increased it to a nine-point lead at 38-29 by halftime.
Stansbury shot 47 percent from the field while Tooele shot 41 percent. Tooele was better at the foul line hitting 17-24 for 71 percent. Stansbury hit 16-29 for 55 percent.
Stansbury scoring: Griffith 20, Manzione 18, May 16, Graves 10, Zayne Anderson 9, Tanner Barton 2, Shane Andrus 1.
Stansbury’s top rebounders: Manzione 12, Graves 10, May 10, Anderson 5.
Tooele scoring: Pollmann 25, Lawrence 14, Connor Searle 8, Powers 6, Memmott 5, Brady 4, Ace Hymas 3, Nick Swartzman 2.
Tooele’s top rebounders: Pollmann 6, Brady 6, Powers 5.
Stansbury plays at Bear River Wednesday and hosts Grantsville Friday.
Tooele has a bye Wednesday and hosts Bear River on Friday.