The Tooele Buffaloes played against yet another 5A school to end its non-region schedule, falling this time to the Taylorsville Warriors 83-78.
The effort of one player in particular explained the overall effort of the Buffs on Friday night.
Early in the second quarter, Conner Searle hit the floor and cut his lip bad enough to need stitches. After getting his lip bandaged at halftime, Searle came back to the Tooele bench in high spirits. He sat down and shouted to head coach Shawn Faux in a jovial attitude, “Coach, I’m ready.” At the 3:17 mark of the third quarter, Faux put Searle back into the game with the Buffs trailing 53-51, and he even scored a basket in the fourth quarter on a behind-the-back assist from Ace Hymas.
Though the Buffaloes are tired of moral victories, they played close against the 8-5 Warriors of Class 5A’s Region 2. Tooele even led 41-39 at halftime.
“My hat’s off to them. They competed,” Faux said of his players. “They did everything I asked them to do. They left it on the court, and that’s what I want. I’ve always said that I can take a loss as long as I see that we’re making improvements. That’s exactly what I saw [Friday]. This is the kind of game, win or lose, that was all about them getting better so that we we’re prepared going into region next week.”
The game never got out of hand for the Buffaloes, but the turnaround where Taylorsville took control happened in the third quarter.
The Warriors came and sank a 3-pointer to take the lead at 42-41, but Justin Pollmann responded with a one-hand floater to grab the lead right back. The Warriors then hit another 3-pointer, but Ryan Brady pounded right back with a basket to tie the game at 45. Following a Taylorsville basket, Pollmann put up a shot that kissed off the glass to keep the score even.
The Warriors hit a free throw to take the lead, and Pollmann dished off an assist to Jared Jackson to give Tooele a one-point lead. The Warriors knocked down yet another 3-pointer for a two-point lead, but the Buffs came down and answered. Pollmann inbounded on the baseline to Jackson, who gave it right back to Pollmann for a quick layup, evening the score at 51.
Trailing by two points again, the Buffs turned the ball over, which led to a Taylorsville layup, foul and one free throw, making the score 56-51. Pollmann sank two free throws, but Taylorsville scored on two possessions while halting the Buffs for a seven-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors led by as many as 11 points at 66-55 before Tooele cut back into the lead. Taylorsville turned the ball over with the score at 66-58, and Brady passed over to Pollmann for a basket. Following a stop, Pollmann found Matt Memmott on offense, as Memmott knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 66-63.
Following the basket by Searle on the assist from Hymas, Memmott nailed a 3-pointer off a Taylorsville turnover, tying the game at 70 with just over four minutes remaining.
Taylorsville picked up two more baskets, followed by a bounce pass from Pollmann to Hymas for a layup to make the score 74-72. The Warriors hit two free throws, and Pollmann came down and was fouled. He knocked down one free throw but missed the second. Nick Schwartzman was right there under the rim to tap the ball back out to Pollmann, and the Buffs called timeout with 33 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout, Hymas put in a layup to cut the Warriors’ lead to one point, and Tooele fouled Taylorsville with 24.7 seconds remaining in the game. Taylorsville hit the free throws, and Tooele came down with a chance to hold serve. However, Pollmann missed the shot, and the Warriors rebounded with 12.1 seconds left on the clock. Pollmann committed the foul to stop the clock, which fouled him out of the game.
Taylorsville hit the two free throws, and Tooele came back down the floor, not going away just yet. Hymas nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two with 3.9 seconds remaining. The Buffaloes called timeout, and out of the timeout they committed the quick foul. Taylorsville hit just one of the two free throws, leaving a sign of life for Tooele to possibly tie the game and go to overtime.
Schwartzman launched the ball down court, but the ball went out of bounds and off the Buffs, giving the ball back to Taylorsville.
The Warriors hit two more free throws to seal the game.
Tooele (7-7) opens Region 11 basketball Wednesday on the road at Ben Lomond. The Scots are 2-12 on the season. Following the opener in Ogden, Tooele heads home for a rivalry matchup with Stansbury on Friday.