Aside from a uncharacteristically low-scoring second quarter, Wendover took care of business Thursday night at Rockwell Charter. After their four-point output in the second quarter, Wendover went on to outscore Rockwell 20- 11 in the third.
The second half was more than enough for the Wildcats to cruise to a 57-41 victory in Eagle Mountain to improve their region record to 4-4 in the last game of the regular season. Wendover had already locked up the third seed out of Region 18 before the Rockwell game and will need to win a play-in game today to make it to the state tournament.
“Rockwell is a tall team but we are a bit quicker,” said Wendover head coach Jesse Calder. “We wanted to spread them out. Eventually we did spread them out in the fourth and Ernesto (Rosales) went to work down low.”
Antonio Escareno and Lorenzo Rivera each led the way for Wendover in a balanced attack with 13 points while Ernesto Rosales also reached double figures in the victory with 11 hard-earned points, mostly in the paint. “We always play a better game when we can spread out the scoring a little bit,” Calder said. “Having three players in double figures is much better than having one with 20-plus points.”
Wendover came out firing right from the beginning as Rivera opened the game with a 3-pointer and the Wildcats opened by scoring the first five points of the game. Escareno later capped a five-point run with a jumper near the baseline to give Wendover a 10-3 lead with 2:54 left in the first.
Owen Feller tried keeping it close for Rockwell with a layup off of an offensive rebound to get within five but Wendover capped the opening period with seven straight points. Rivera scored the final four points of the Wildcat 7-0 run to give Wendover a 20-7 lead after one.
The offense seemingly took a quarter off in the second for Wendover as the Wildcats were unable to make a shot from the field the entire period. Rockwell took advantage of the offensive drought for Wendover and made a game of it in the second.
Preston Hansen scored seven points for Rockwell in the second as the Marshals were able to outscore Wendover 11-4 to get within six of the Wildcats at the half, 24-18.
The offensive lag didn’t stick around long for Wendover as they earned good looks at the basket in the third. John Douthit made consecutive baskets for Rockwell to help them get within four of the Wildcats but the rest of the quarter belonged to Wendover. Wendover reeled off a 10- 2 run following those baskets from Douthit. Rivera scored six points during the run that gave Wendover a 36-24 lead at the 3:59 mark of the third.
Escareno scored four points down the stretch for Wendover to help them on a 8-3 run to finish off the quarter. Rosales put the finishing touches on the quarter with a bucket in the paint to give the Wildcats a 44-29 lead heading into the fourth.
Rockwell threatened to make it close in the opening minutes of the fourth with a 7-3 run. McEgan Nelson capped the run to get Rockwell within 11 at 47-36 with 5:39 left.
A 3-pointer by Travis Jenson later helped Rockwell creep even closer as they scored five points in a row to get within 49-41 of Wendover with 2:45 left. That would be the final points of the game for Rockwell though as Wendover clamped down defensively.
Not only did Wendover deny Rockwell any points in the final 2:45 but they also added eight points down the stretch. Weston Wadsworth scored four points in the final minutes to help the Wildcats break open the game and cruise to the 16- point victory.
“We have a lot of good leadership on our team,” Calder said. “One thing that really helped up win was that we kept our heads the entire game.” Wendover will have a play-in game in Richfield with the fifth seed from Region 20 today at 6 p.m. for the right to get into the 1A state tournament.