Ogden • The thick bag of ice clung to Trevor Hill’s swollen left ankle like a badge of honor, giving the Alta point guard a heavy limp following a 38-31 Hawks win over American Fork in a Class 5A semifinal Friday.
At the same time, Alta coach Jim Barker emerged calm from the locker room, his team finally a lock for Saturday’s state title game. But for 32 minutes, the Hawks were locked in a tight affair with the Cavemen that seemingly didn’t have a resolution in sight.
“It was the type of game I thought it would be,” Barker said. “I thought it would be low scoring, and it was. I’m not surprised at all.”
In a nerve-wracking matchup, Hill’s experience shined through. Still just a junior but a three-year starter, Hill made two free throws with his team up 34-31 to essentially clinch the game with 14 seconds remaining.
The 6-foot-3 floor leader had anything but a pretty game statistically. He shot 3 of 13 from the field. He notched only two assists, and he missed all four of his shots from beyond the arc.
But when the game was on the line, Hill was the man. Eight of his points came in the second half, with six coming in the final two minutes. He grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals and two blocks. His disruption of American Fork star big man Ryan Andrus proved to be a big key.
“Coach wants me to go out and facilitate and get everyone involved,” Hill said. “That’s the job I know that I have to go out and do. It was a tough game, and we were expecting that. I’m just glad we were able to finally pull it out.”
A 21-21 game at halftime morphed into a 26-26 deadlock at the end of three quarters. Alta allowed the 6-10 Andrus to score a game-high 14 points, but it held him to 5 of 15 from the floor. Tyler Rawson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for American Fork.
In many ways, it’s hard to see how Alta was able to walk away with a victory. The Hawks shot 28.9 percent from the field, 3 of 21 from 3-point distance, and had as many turnovers as assists.
But Hill and Landon Albrecht both made huge plays down the stretch. And Alta’s defense when it mattered was nothing short of stellar.
“I’m proud of the way we responded when we were faced with a bit of adversity,” Barker said. “The guys really hung in there and made the plays when we needed them.”
O Lone Peak vs. Alta
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where • At the Dee Events Center, Ogden
TV • KJZZ