MT. PLEASANT—Less than a week after a statement win, the high-flying Hawks had their wings clipped by the Cougars.
The North Sanpete boys’ basketball team lost their first region game of the season in a 60-47 loss at Union last Wednesday, before bouncing back with a rivalry win over Juab, 50-42, last Friday.
Senior Landon Bowles was the leading scorer on the floor for either side in both contests, scoring 23 points against Union and 20 points against Juab. His 20 points against the Wasps was his fifth game of 20 plus points this season and the third in the last four games (he scored 19 points against Manti). Bowles is averaging 15.7 points per game for the season, which is sixth-best in 3A.
Nevertheless, the Hawks’ split week showcased a fact every coach knows about Region 14 this season: there are no favorites. “There’s a lot of parity in our region,” Coach Bill Pollock said. “Anyone can beat anyone on the right night. Give credit to Union for putting together a good game against us.”
The Cougars’ plan seemed simple enough. They just had to get ahead and stay ahead. They jumped on the Hawks early and got out to a 12-5 lead after the first quarter, tying the lowest-scoring quarter for North Sanpete this season after they put up five points in the second quarter against Richfield.
Rather than rely on 3A’s third-best scorer in Union’s Grady Gardner (17.3 ppg), the Cougars’ shared the ball and rained on North Sanpete’s defense by committee, as Union finished with four players in double figures. Gardner wasn’t even Union’s leading scorer. The Cougars also benefitted from 28 free throw attempts, even though they only made 13 of them.
On the Hawks’ side, after Bowles, junior Ty Allan was the only one in double figures with 11 points. Bowles was statistically everywhere, adding to his 23-point night five rebounds, five assists, six steals and a block.
“Letting Union get ahead of us early ultimately cost us,” Pollock said. “We never could close the gap. Our kids got anxious and played a bit out of character, trying to make too much happen. We have to stay consistent to what we do, one possession at a time.”
Despite the letdown, the mentally tough squad bounced right back two days later with a classic don’t-think-about-what-happened-during-football-season-style rivalry win over Juab in front of their own fans.
True to the spirit of the canyon clash, the game remained close unto the end, with Juab holding a slim 39-38 lead before North Sanpete took off for 22 points in the fourth quarter to pull away with the win.
After Bowles, senior Ty Morley had double figures with 13 points, while senior Morgan Bowles put in 10 points.
The Hawks will still be on their extended road trip this week as they travel this Wednesday to take on Delta. They’ll then be preparing for a rematch with Manti next Wednesday, this time on their own court.