Corner Canyon forward Hayden Welling was greeted by shouts from his teammates as he turned the corner into the locker room.
“Ayyy, ayyy, ayy,” bounced off the walls of the tight corridor until it was muffled by the closing door.
It was a suitable response to Welling’s 29-point performance in Corner Canyon’s 65-52 win over Timpanogos in the Class 5A boys’ basketball state semifinal Friday at the Huntsman Center.
“He was tough around the basket,” Corner Canyon coach Dan Lunt said. “He was a rim protector. He just did a great job.”
Welling tallied four blocks and eight rebounds in addition to leading the team in scoring. He teamed with Gabe Toombs under the basket. It took until the second half for Toombs to put up big numbers, but he finished the game with a double-double — 11 points, 10 rebounds.
“I thought we had a huge advantage inside with both Hayden and Gabe Toombs,” Lunt said. “And Gabe got in a little foul trouble early, but after he was able to play the second half, I just don’t think they had anybody who could handle those two. You take one away, the other’s open.”
Corner Canyon began the game as the aggressor, and Lunt credited that start with setting the tone for the rest of the game. The Chargers jumped to a 8-2 lead, and Welling scored six of those eight points.
The Chargers led by a small margin, 23-20, at halftime. They expected the press coming out of the intermission, and they reacted to it well enough to score 23 points in the third quarter to take a 14-point lead.
“It’s just something that we prepared for and that we know how to handle,” Welling said. “Every guy on our team can handle pressure, and that’s what makes us a killer team right now.”
After the start Welling had, it only was fitting that he finished the game on a scoring spree. His 6-foot-8 frame shot upward, lifting his head and shoulders above the rim and he dropped the ball in the basket. That play put the Chargers up 61-47. He scored Corner Canyon’s last field goal of the night on an effortless layup.
CORNER CANYON 65, TIMPANOGOS 52
• Corner Canyon advances to the state championship game.
• The Chargers’ Hayden Welling finishes with 29 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
• Colin Christensen comes off the Timpanogos bench to score a team-leading 15 points.