The Stansbury Stallions started a run in the second quarter to pull away from the Rowland Hall Winged Lions, and that run carried over to a huge third quarter for just enough padding in victory.
Stansbury (3-1) got 20 points out of senior guard Ryan Robbins and a 25-12 scoring advantage in the third quarter to work its way past Rowland Hall (2-2 in Class 2A) for a 66-54 win.
Stansbury led Rowland Hall 20-16 with about four minutes remaining in the second quarter, and a 9-2 run to go into halftime gave the Stallions just the boost they needed. That 9-2 run was highlighted by a putback from junior guard Taylor Graves after two missed free throws that put Stansbury up 26-16 with just under two minutes until halftime.
Things picked up right where they were left off, and Stansbury jumped out in the first two minutes of third quarter on a 6-0 run, highlighted by junior guard Tom Griffith racing through the lane and getting high above the Winged Lion defenders for a layup. Senior forward Stone Tia made one-of-two free throws at the 5:41 mark, and senior guard Niko Chacon nailed a 3-pointer after the offensive rebound was passed out to him on the missed free throw. Griffith then found Tia for a fastbreak layup less than a minute later on a possession after another made free throw, capping Stansbury’s third quarter run at 13-0.
After a little back-and-forth between Stansbury and Rowland Hall, sophomore guard Shane Andrus drained a 3-pointer, followed by a steal and layup by Robbins. Tia then found junior guard Tanner Barton for a basket with under a minute left in the third quarter, going into the fourth with the score at 54-30 for the Stallions.
Stansbury coach Ryan Harris said there wasn’t anything special he said to his team at halftime. The players came out and dominated all on their own.
“That’s kind of the nature of our team,” Harris said. “What I love about them is that early on a lot of teams have energy, and what I love is that our kids sustain the effort whether it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter, and I think that’s the difference. I definitely didn’t say anything special. It was just the nature of these guys, and I love the fact that when they get a little down or facing adversity, they just respond.”
Rowland Hall did not go quietly into the night after Stansbury’s big third quarter. The Winged Lions responded with their own run in the fourth quarter to make things interesting. They applied a full-court press for the duration of the fourth quarter that stymied the Stallions’ execution and forced turnovers. This led to a 20-7 run by the Winged Lions to make the score 61-50 with about three minutes left in the game. Stansbury held things together to hold serve and get the win.
Harris said he’s not concerned with the way the full-court press was handled. He said the younger players haven’t had much time to work against a press like that so the experience against it will eventually come.
“Life is growth, and you learn,” Harris said. “You need to experience it to realize, ‘OK how do I adjust better?’ I don’t have any worries.”
Stansbury next hosts the Delta Rabbits on Tuesday at 7 p.m. When Stansbury and Delta met last year at Delta, the Rabbits came away with a 63-49 victory.