Orem • Zach Hunsaker circled this one once he walked out of the visitor’s locker room door at Timpview on Jan. 15.
The Orem senior salivated at the idea of having another shot at the Thunderbirds after they shocked the Tigers three weeks ago.
Orem got its second chance at their Region 8 rivals Friday night, and the Tigers made sure they’d leave the locker room beaming this time around.
They did after defeating Timpview 48-42 to secure a hold on the region lead and move one game ahead of the Thunderbirds.
"We’ve been looking forward to this for a while," said Hunsaker, who had a game-high 16 points on Orem’s senior night.
But it wasn’t easy.
After jumping out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter, the Tigers maintained that advantage through its talented backcourt of Hunsaker and junior Quinn Peters, who finished with 10 points.
Then the T-birds came knocking. Timpview started the fourth quarter trailing Orem by 12, but it went an 11-1 run to claw within one with five minutes remaining. It was a free-throw competition from there as each team sent its opponent to the line often. Timpview scored two field goals in the fourth quarter, while Orem had none.
"I know championships are won with defense," Orem coach Golden Holt said, "but you’ve got to keep scoring to win games."
Orem kept scoring from the free-throw line, draining nine freebies to fend off the furious late-game rally by the Thunderbirds.
"Everything we go through right now is good for us," Holt said. "It’s a learning experience."
Withstanding a late T-bird resurgence counts. When Timpview’s Luke Sagers’ 3-point attempt circled out with less than a minute — a shot that would have tied the game — Hunsaker was able to ice the game from the free-throw line.
Timpview (16-2, 9-2 in Region 8) was led by Dax Raymond and Taylor Roy, who finished with 15 and 10 points, respectively. The defending 4A state champions (17-3, 10-1 in Region 8) have three regular-season games remaining to prep for a run at defending their crown.
They’ll play the remainder of the region schedule minus senior guard Jordan Darger, who continues to sit out due to a shoulder injury.
"We’re not good enough to win a state championship right now," Holt said bluntly.
Peters said the win is a necessary step in repeating. The junior, who pestered the T-bird defense with his slashing ability, said his teammates came out with a different intensity hoping to erase that Jan. 15 evening from their memories.
"We really wanted that one," he said. "They stole one away from us last game. We don’t take teams beating us lightly."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.