Syracuse sophomore Kalvin Mudrow tossed in a left-handed hook to start the second half to pull his team to within three points of defending Class 5A champion Lone Peak.
And that’s a heckuva lot closer than many other of the Knights’ opponents in recent memory.
But that’ll have to be the take-home moment for the underdog Titans on this day. Lone Peak (20-3) reasserted itself within a couple of minutes and opened a 17-point lead en route to an 87-60 victory at the Huntman Center on Tuesday.
“It slipped away there in a few minutes, and it’s really hard to rebound against a really good team by Lone Peak when that happens,” Syracuse coach Troy Anderson said.
The player who did the most damage to Syracuse’s upset hopes was a familiar one. Knights senior standout T.J. Haws, who will play at BYU, finished with 29 points. After a bucket from Zach Frampton to answer Mudrow’s score, Haws connected on a pair of free throws then drilled consecutive baseline 3-pointers from both sides of the court.
That made the score 48-33, and the Knights’ quick 14-point run ended on a putback score from Frank Jackson, who finished with 19.
“I think his statistics basically tell the story for him,” Anderson said about the quick-strike capability of Haws. “Short of being hurt, not too many guys are going to have success shutting him down.”
Lone Peak got off to a quick start by registering the first eight points of the contest.
But Syracuse bounced back with an 8-2 run of its own
The Titans had another comeback in them after falling behind 26-12 when Nick Curtis, who finished with 10, hit a shot to start the second quarter. But Syracuse continually had trouble with Lone Peak’s fast break. The Knights several times were able to sprint out after quick outlet passes off defensive rebounds.
An important component to Lone Peak’s early success was senior Frampton, who almost recorded a triple-double with 15 points, a dozen rebounds and nine assists.
“Obviously we have a couple of different guys [than 2013], but ultimately it’s the same goal — to win a state championship,” Frampton said. “That’s all that matters to us.”