North Sanpete hoopsters now 4-0 in region play, even without coach
By Rhett Wilkinson
After going 2-0 last week, the North Sanpete Hawks went 4-1, including a perfect 4-0 in region play, without head coach Cris Hoopes.
“We survived without our captain,” assistant head coach Bill Pollock said, referencing Hoopes.
Hoopes returned to action Saturday.
“I’m glad to have him back,” Pollock said.
North Sanpete (9-4, 5-1 Region 14) beat Delta (1-8, 0-3) 87-72 last week, outscoring the Rabbits by 24 points in the second half thanks very much to 22 second-half points from Landon Bowles on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the 3-point line.
North Sanpete also won another game without one of its best players in Brady Jacobson, who was out due to quarantine and/or sickness as a result of COVID-19. The Hawks beat Juab 49-47 after Trevin Morley made a 16-footer at the buzzer – without his feet first touching the floor.
Regarding Bowles’ performance, which came after North Sanpete was down nine at halftime, Hoopes texted Pollock, “thank Landon for getting hot,” Pollock said.
“He carried us,” Pollock said, pointing out that Bowles also played at the top of a full-court press throughout the second half.
Pollock knew coming into the year that Bowles “had to be a guy who gave us 12 to 16 a night,” Pollock said. Bowles started for the Hawks at the end of last year, providing good minutes. Then he suffered an injury as the school’s quarterback, tearing his MCL. Bowles then changed his brace.
“He felt like he couldn’t move in the other one,” Pollock said.
Pollock departed from his regular rotation pattern to keep Bowles in the game.
“When that happens, you have to let it go,” Pollock said. “Some of the structure kind of goes out the window.”
If Bowles can play his best basketball going into the postseason, it will make a great difference, Pollock said.
“We feel like we are a deeper team than each team in our region,” Pollock said.
At halftime, Pollock talked with his team about adjustments. Delta made most of their shots in the first half from distance.
“I told (the Hawks), they will shoot their average,” Pollock said.
The Rabbits still ended the game shooting 50 percent from 3, which Pollock called “insane.”
Pollock and his team talked about winning the battle on the defensive end, he said.
“I didn’t feel like Delta could stop us offensively. That wasn’t the issue. The issue is that we weren’t stopping them,” Pollock said.
So North Sanpete deployed a 1-2-2 press, Pollock said.
“That gave them fits,” Pollock said.
Was Pollock worried that he was expending energy from his team through the press when they needed that energy to make a comeback?
“No, I think it ignited us,” Pollock said. “As a coach, you are trying to figure out ways to get them going … once they got going, (they were) able to anticipate more; they watched the ball better.”
During the game, Delta coach Kurtis Topham told Pollock, who went to high school with him, “if we score 72 points, you need to help us out,” Pollock said.
“I said, ‘there’s no gimmes,’” Pollock said.
After Jacobson started all season except for the four games he missed, he came off the bench against Delta.
“We only had him only one day of practice,” Pollock said.
Pollock also played post player Morgan Bowles more than usual.
“He’s more active that our other post players,” Pollock said, noting that other post players are great in half-court play, but in the press, “maybe not so much.”
Pollock said he was “nervous” about the Rabbits game became North Sanpete was coming off a huge win over Juab and Delta shot the ball well last year in Mt. Pleasant.
“They were playing with nothing to lose and I feel like we have everything to lose right now,” Pollock said.
Against Juab (9-3, 2-1), Morley, who scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, made his improbable shot after coming off a back screen by Landon Milne.
“That’s every kid’s dream, right?” Pollock said, noting that it was awesome that the play worked.
“Everyone was buzzing on the way home,” Pollock said.
Bowles added 11 and was the primary ball-handler without Jacobson.
The Wasps were without Dawson Olsen, who averages 11.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, according to MaxPreps.