There’s no question Preston’s boys basketball program has gone through some growing pains this season, but the Indians are certainly peaking at the right time.
Preston used a strong second quarter to pull ahead of Century for good en route to a huge 51-44 road victory over the Diamondbacks on Friday night. In the process, the Indians were able to capture their sixth straight regular season district title.
Additionally, Preston (14-6, 3-1) became only the second team to win at Century (12-5, 2-2) this season, joining fellow Cache Valley program Sky View. The Indians, who extended their winning streak to five, swept the season series from the D-backs as they prevailed by 10 points at home last Wednesday.
"Just proud of the team," PHS head coach Tyler Jones said. "The kids battled and showed a lot of grit in a tough environment. I thought our defense and rebounding were the keys tonight."
Preston outscored Century 14-2 in the second quarter in a showdown of teams ranked in the top five in the latest 4A coaches and media polls. Braden Hess converted on a pass from Cole Harris in the final seconds of the second quarter to give the visitors a 26-15 halftime lead.
Preston’s advantage ballooned to as many as 17 points in the second half, and Century got no closer than six.
Hess knocked down all five of his free throw attempts on his way to a game-high 17 points for Preston, which got nine points from Harris and eight from Treyger Shumway. Shumway buried a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter to help keep the visitors in control.
Preston limited Century standout Emmett Holt to nine points.
With the win, the Indians earned the right to host the district tournament.
REGION 11 GAMES
Sky View (13-3, 6-0) remained undefeated in region play by dispatching of Bear River (7-9, 1-5) at home, while Ridgeline (10-8, 5-1) prevailed at Green Canyon (9-9, 2-4), 62-48. As a result, both the Bobcats and Riverhawks swept the season series with their rivals.
Titan Saxton scored 12 of Sky View’s first 20 points on his way to a game-high 20. The senior guard drained six 3-balls — the final of which gave the hosts their biggest lead of the contest at 54-36 in the fourth quarter.
Bear River battled back with a 12-2 run to pare its deficit to 56-48 with 1:30 left in the game, but that’s as close as the visitors got.
Evan Hall netted 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter for the Bobcats, who extended their winning streak to eight. Taydem Neal chipped in with 10 points for Sky View, while Carter Davis added nine points off the bench.
“Hard-fought game. Credit to Bear River,” SV head coach Kirk Hillyard said. “They were very physical on defense. Our guys played composed and found open shooters for nice shots. Titan shot it well tonight and Carter Davis off the bench had some big shots. Taydem played some great defense and made 7 of 11 free throws down the stretch.”
Jace Jacobsen led the Bears with 14 points.
Meanwhile, Ridgeline jumped out to a 19-8 lead after eight minutes of action against Green Canyon and never looked back, although, to their credit, the Wolves refused to quit.
Kaden Cox had a monster night for the Riverhawks as he poured in 27 points. The junior guard sank four shots from downtown and went 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. Chase Hall and Peyton Knowles teamed up for 25 points for Ridgeline.
“We started out fast and were able to keep a lead,” RHS head coach Kyle Day said. “(Green Canyon) battled and came back at us like we knew they would, but I was proud of our poise to get a big win on the road. We had big contributions from lots of guys defensively. Peyton was just terrific on both ends.”
Freshman Jared Anderson paced the Wolves in points with 14, followed by Cade DeBoard with 13 and Jake Lundin with 10.
“Man, Ridgeline is tough,” GC head coach Dan McClure said. “I thought we did a pretty decent job on Kaden Cox. He was just outstanding. We hung around the second half and had it in single digits for the majority of the fourth quarter. We just couldn’t make enough plays late. I love how hard our guys competed.”