Riley Court’s free throws repeatedly hit nothing but net, but it wasn’t until his body hit the Huntsman Center floor that Pleasant Grove could celebrate.
The junior guard made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2 minutes, then used an all-out effort to tip away the final inbound pass and clinch a 68-65 victory against American Fork in Friday night’s Class 5A state semifinal.
StorylinesRiley Court scores 13 of his 15 points in the second half and the Vikings make 22 of 25 free throws to advance.
» Ryan Andrus scores 26 points, but AF can’t hold a five-point halftime lead.
Court landed hard on his elbow and tailbone, but the momentary discomfort subsided shortly after Pleasant Grove advanced to its first state title game in a generation.
"I knew [Tyler] Rawson was behind me and he’s capable of hitting 3s, so I just tried everything I could to get a hand on it," said Court, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.
Pleasant Grove (23-3) advanced to meet Region 4 rival Lone Peak in Saturday’s 4 p.m. championship — a game filled with historic possibilities. The Vikings, the only Utah team in the past two years to beat Lone Peak, will try to end a 52-year title drought. The Knights will play for their fourth consecutive crown
"I was born in 1962 and I tell them, ‘You think I look old? That’s how long it’s been — older than this,’ " Vikings coach Randy McAllister said. "They’re fully aware of it. It’s been a while. We’re excited."
The Vikings trailed 32-27 at halftime, but jumped ahead 4 minutes into the third quarter and never trailed again. PG finished 22 of 25 from the free-throw line, including 9 of 10 as it clung to a narrow lead down late.
Ryan Andrus scored a game-high 26 points for the Cavemen (17-9), who cut the lead to 66-65 on a Brendan Bailey 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left.
But Court’s confidence at the line showed up once again.
"We’ve got a lot of mentally tough kids on our team," Court said. "We practice free throws a lot and we know we’re capable of it.
"This has been our goal all year, but we’ve got a tough team next. Stay humble but hungry, that’s our motto."
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