Riverton • Impatience might be a characteristic of youth, but the Kearns High boys' basketball team fought against natural tendencies Saturday afternoon. And patience paid off for the Cougars in the form of a 63-58 victory over Layton.
Kearns (5-2) moves into the semifinals of the 16-team Riverton Holiday tournament when play resumes Monday.
"Everybody looks down on Kearns. I think, back then, they weren't as good as we are now," said junior Bushman Ebet, who finished with 15 points. "If we play like this every game, we can go pretty far."
The quarterfinal win over the Lancers came, in large part, thanks to Kearns' ability to work the ball around the Layton zone until a shot opened up near the basket.
When Layton (6-2), hoping to pump some life into its own offense, came out of the zone at the start of the second half. That's when Kearns, which led by four at intermission, jumped to a double-digit advantage.
The Cougars opened up a 15-point margin with three minutes left in the game and, despite poor free-throw shooting down the stretch, were able to forge out the win.
"[Kearns coach Dan Cosby] says we're going to have to shoot a hundred free throws each," Ebet said.
Dacraeon Vines led Kearns with 17 points while Layton was paced by Malcolm Petty's 14 points almost all coming in the last four minutes. Jarriesse Blackmon, who scorched Taylorsville for 35 points the day before, finished with 11.
"My guys showed a lot of patience and I'm proud of them right now," Cosby said. "I wanted to pull them out of the zone; I felt they couldn't check us man. They had the big guy [Blackmon] on Vines and I told him to take him anytime he wanted. The same thing with Bushman, I said, 'Take him.'"
Ebet was called for a charge when he dunked the ball a minute into the third period. Instead of turning momentum to Layton's side, Kearns then registered a 9-1 run.
"That whole first half, we were a little bit flat. We didn't have much intensity, so we thought maybe switching up to man (defense) would help us out a little bit," said Layton coach Kelby Miller, whose team scored more than half its points (33) in the fourth quarter. "All the credit to them they're very good athletes. We had a hard time staying in front and I think that was all the difference."
Kearns 63, Layton 58
O Dacraeon Vines scores 17 points for the Cougars, who improve to 5-2.