The Red Devils hand Payson their first loss of the year
FINAL: Payson 45, Springville 51
Slow Clint Bateman down.
Going into Friday night’s showdown against Payson High School, Springville’s head coach Chris Kitchen had engrained one simple game plan into his players’ heads to stop the Lions — frustrate Bateman.
“Well…c’mon, Clint Bateman’s one of the best players in the county, if not the state,” said Kitchen after the game was over. “Our whole focus was to make Bateman struggle.”
Stopping Bateman, or slowing him down at least, paid off for Springville (5-1) and they pulled off a 51-45 win at home over a Payson (5-1) team coming into the ballgame on a five-game winning streak.
A normally focused Lion team lacked cohesiveness on Friday night as the Devils threw everything they had at Payson’s number 14. Double team after double team came at Bateman and it seemed the other four Lions on the court were unable to send him help.
Springville forward, Nathan Isrealsen, felt they were able to control the speed of the game well thanks to their defensive efforts on Bateman.
“He’s a great point guard, he controls the tempo really well,” said Isrealsen. “So we knew if we could slow him down a little bit that would mess up their tempo.”
Mission accomplished for Springville.
“You never shut great players down,” said Kitchen of Bateman. “But what you can do is contain them and not let other players aid them.”
Isrealsen was given the assignment to shut down Payson’s star point guard. Isrealsen went the extra mile, however, doing his damage on both ends of the floor. He poured in a game-high 29 points for the Devils, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
Isrealsen’s big offensive night came quietly. He was 13 for 14 from the charity stripe and calmly put the Lions away with six big free throws in the final period. When asked about his composure at the line, he simply quoted one of basketball’s greats.
“There’s a saying by Jerry West,” said Isrealsen after the game. ““If you’re afraid to fail, you don’t deserve to succeed”, that’s what I live by.”
The Lions trailed most of the game and never led in the first half. They clawed their way back into the game in the third quarter and traded leads with the Devils until the final minutes of the game when Springville made big plays down the stretch to put the Lions away. A three by Springville halfway through the fourth quarter gave them a lead they would never relinquish and the Lions were relegated to forcing up jumpers and crashing through the lane until the buzzer sounded.
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” said Bateman in his post-game interview. “They out-executed us.”
Bateman had a team-high 18 points. Tanner Newbold chipped in 14 points and Skyler Rowley and Bret Rowley had four apiece. The Lions had numerous chances to score, but found themselves driving through hordes of Springville defenders every time they went into the paint. A usually strong defensive Payson team was beat at their own game.
“I thought it boiled down to defense,” said Payson’s Head Coach Dan Lunt. “We had some breakdowns.”
Payson ends non-region play with a 5-1 record after Friday night’s loss. Tomorrow night they’ll be in San Diego playing in a pre-season tournament. Lunt hopes they can put this Springville game behind them with a win Saturday night.
“I hate to lose and we’ll have the opportunity to get that bad taste out of our mouths in 22 hours from now,” he said.
The week-long tournament in California will give the Lions a chance to prepare for region play after the Christmas break.