Richfield • As Duchesne’s play began to take shape, Beaver’s bench called its own: “Utah, Utah.”
The Beavers defended each Eagles possession of the third quarter as if they knew what was coming. Beaver’s Davis Heslington said they had studied Duchesne so much that they essentially did.
Joe Hillock “is the best coach I’ve ever had in basketball,” Heslington said. “He just gets us prepared so much that we knew their out of bounds plays. We knew what they were going to do every single time.”
The Beavers held the Eagles to just three points in the third quarter en route to a 44-30 win in Saturday’s Class 2A boys’ basketball state title game. It was the program’s first state crown since 2002.
“It means a lot for a small community when you get something like this for the town,” Hillock said. “And this is for the town. ... The trophy will be in the school, but it’s for everybody in the whole town, too.”
Beaver went up 16-11 in the first half, but that was far from a comfortable lead.
“Nine out of [their] 11 points were at the 3- point line,” Hillock said about the Eagles. “We talked about tightening that down a little bit more, giving a little bit more help off the weak side.”
Beaver not only shut down Duchesne beyond the arc in the third quarter, the Beavers didn’t allow a field goal all period.
Beaver meanwhile added 13 points, capped by a last-second, off-balanced 3-pointer by Heslington. His shot put the Beavers up 29-14. He went on to lead the team with a game-high 26 points.
“By the end, I was sucking wind, I was really tired,” he said. “But for this, I could play another five games if we had to.”
The Beavers needed that kind of energy after coming off a 57-51 state semifinal victory over defending champion Layton Christian.
“Coach Hillock always says, ‘Celebrate ’til midnight and then move on to the next one,’” Beaver senior Porter Hollingshead said. “And we knew we needed one more game to get to that state championship.”
Immediately after winning the championship, the Beavers formed a line and jogged from one side of the court to the other to high-five their packed-in fans, who they dedicated their title to.
Duchesne, which moved up from Class 1A to 2A this season, was greeted by a warm round of applause from their supporters when it received the second-place trophy. The Eagles had bounced back from a three-point third quarter to score 16 points in the final period. Jaren Mortensen, who lead the team with nine points, scored seven in the fourth quarter.
“I have a lot of respect for [coach Billy Hoopes] and his program,” Hillock said. “He’s done a wonderful, wonderful job.”
BEAVER 44, DUCHESNE 30
• Beaver wins its first boys’ basketball state title since 2002.
• Beaver senior Davis Heslington scores a game-high 26 points.
• Jaren Mortensen leads Duchesne with nine points.