It took less than eight minutes for the Stansbury boys basketball team to turn a nail-biter into a blowout on Friday night.
Hot shooting from the perimeter will do that for a team. It was particularly sweet for the Stallions on this occasion, as they ran away from county rival Tooele for a 56-36 win, avenging an earlier loss to the Buffaloes and creating a four-way tie for second place in the Region 10 standings with five games left in the regular season.
The Stallions (8-7, 4-3 Region 10) led 31-28 with three minutes left in the third quarter after Tooele’s Julian Mahoe converted a traditional 3-point play. Stansbury guard Kru Huxford jump-started a 20-1 run with a driving layup on the Stallions’ next possession, and he knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner with 37 seconds left in the third quarter to stretch Stansbury’s lead to eight points.
Then, the fireworks started for the Stallions. Bridger Thomas nailed a trey from the deep right wing to open the fourth quarter, and Pae Tia took a perfect pass from Landen Giles and scored a wide-open layup. Logan Richins scored on an offensive rebound to put Stansbury up 43-28 with 5:41 left in the game, and he hit a 3-pointer from the left corner 57 seconds later to stretch the lead to 18.
Tooele (8-9, 4-3) finally broke its scoreless drought with a free throw by Trevor Zaleski with 4:11 left, but another 3 by Thomas and a bucket by Richins had the Stallions up 51-29 with 3:10 left in the contest. The Buffaloes trailed by as many as 23 points down the stretch, and didn’t hit a field goal in the fourth quarter until a 3-pointer by Israel Hogan in the final minute.
Before Stansbury’s outburst, Tooele hadn’t trailed by more than eight points. In fact, the Buffs had a 5-2 lead early in the first quarter on a 3-pointer by McCade Laughlin and a putback by Pacesen McLaws on an offensive rebound. However, the Stallions finished the opening quarter on a 13-2 run, with Giles draining a buzzer-beating 3 from the right wing to give SHS a 15-7 lead.
Tooele cut the Stallions’ lead to six points at halftime as both teams struggled to score in the second quarter. A free-throw-line jumper by Mahoe and an and-one by Justin Rogers had the Buffaloes within a point just 27 seconds into the third quarter. Giles answered with his second 3 of the game on Stansbury’s next possession to put the Stallions up four, and Rogers converted an offensive rebound to make it 24-22 with 5:53 left in the third.
Thomas and Rogers exchanged 3-pointers on the next two trips down the floor, and Giles hit from the right wing to put Stansbury up 30-25. David Spaulding’s free throw had the Stallions up six before Mahoe’s and-one, which represented Tooele’s last field goal for the next 10:05.
Stansbury outrebounded Tooele 32-24 in the game, including a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass. The Buffaloes also committed 27 turnovers to the Stallions’ five, enabling SHS to put up 23 more shot attempts than THS — a key stat in a game where the Stallions shot 37.3% to Tooele’s 36.1%. Stansbury also hit 10 3-pointers, and the Buffs made three.
Giles led Stansbury with 18 points to go with five rebounds and five assists, hitting three 3-pointers. Thomas had 14 points on four 3-pointers and picked off five steals, while Richins narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Huxford and Spaulding each had five points, Jacob White had three and Tia had two.
Rogers led Tooele with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Mahoe added seven points, and Zaleski, Hogan and Laughlin had three each. McLaws and Ethan Simmons each scored two points.
Stansbury will hit the road Wednesday to take on a struggling Ben Lomond squad in a Region 10 contest. Tooele will be in action that night at home against region foe Ogden.