OREM – Hurricane’s seniors didn’t want the season to end and they did everything they could to prevent that from happening. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell to the ultra-athletic Juan Diego Soaring Eagle 59-54 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament here at the UCCU Center.
“At times it felt like we were playing a college team out there,” Hurricane head coach Todd Langston said. “When we got in foul trouble, I had a couple of my 100-pound sophomores on the floor against their 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-5 guys. But our seniors gave everything they had and gave us a chance at the end.”
Things looked bleak for the Tigers late in the third quarter. Raimoan Tiniauarii had just hit a 3-pointer and Juan Diego looked like it was blowing the game open with a 43-29 lead with 2:45 to play in the third.
But the switch (and the script) flipped after that. Jackson Last hit a corner trey to make it 43-32 and Britton Esplin followed with another deep ball to make it 43-35 as the third quarter ended.
A third 3 to start the fourth, this one by Reagan Marshall, completed a 9-0 run by the Tigers and made it 43-38 with 7:09 left in the game.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed in the result, but I’m very proud of the way we fought back in the game,” Langston said. “These boys showed tremendous effort and pride in making the comeback.”
Last scored on a jumper in the lane and then made two free throws at the 4:02 mark to cut it to a 48-46 game.
“We had a chance at that point,” Langston said. “If we had shot a little better late in the game, we might have won.”
After the two teams exchanged possessions on missed shots, Jason Ricketts put JDHS ahead 50-46 with a bank shot in the lane. The Tigers missed again and Tinirauarii drew a foul and made two free throws to make it 52-46 with 1:40 left in the game.
Moments later, Brice Thomas hit a 3-pointer to again pull Hurricane within a possession at 54-51 with 45.7 seconds to play.
Soaring Eagle point guard Matt Kitzman made two free throws to make it 56-51 just two seconds later. The foul called on the play was ruled intentional and the Soaring Eagle also got a third free throw to make it 57-51.
After a mad scramble, Thomas hit another trey to make it 57-54, but by that time the clock had run under five seconds. Gabe Soto hit two free throws with 1.7 seconds left for the final margin.
“Im really disappointed for our region,” Langston said. “These bigger schools just have so many great athletes.”
Langston, who saw his team fall to 14-10 to end the season, credited his seniors for their hard work.
“I thanked them for giving us the opportunity to coach them,” Langston said. “No matter the wins or losses, our job is to turn boys into good men and these are good men. I hope our younger guys have learned from the seniors’ example of hard work and leadership.”
Last finished with 21 points in his final game for Hurricane, while Marshall had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Ricketts finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Juan Diego. The Soaring Eagle, 21-4, play in Friday’s 4A semifinal at 9:10 p.m. against Orem.
“Hurricane really battled and the Last kid is a heck of a player,” Juan Diego coach Drew Trost said. “He really put them on his back there in the second half and kept them in the game, which is a credit to him. Hurricane is resilient and they didn’t give up and they played hard and they made some big shots when they needed to. Credit to them.”
4A first round results
Payson 71, Tooele 54
Sky View 61, Canyon View 42
Dixie 64, Bear River 55
Salem Hills 60, Stansbury 48
Desert Hills 65, Green Canyon 63
Orem 62, Bonneville 39
Juan Diego 75, Lehi 50
Hurricane 64, Logan 57
4A quarterfinal matchups (@ UCCU Center, Utah Valley University)
Region 10 No. 3 Payson (13-9) vs. Region 12 No. 1 Sky View (17-6), 2:30 p.m.
Salem Hills 56, Dixie 46
Orem 71, Desert Hills 56
Juan Diego 59, Hurricane 54
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