Lions defeat Juab and take Region 12 with authority
FINAL: Payson 73, Juab 50
It’s difficult to decide what’s most impressive about the Payson Lions boys basketball team right now.
Is it the fact that they ran an aggressive Juab Wasps team into the ground in a 73-50 blowout win Tuesday night? Is it the Region 12 Championship that they clinched two or three games ago? Is it that every player on the team played hard until the final whistle against Juab even though they had the game won early in the fourth quarter? Is it their dominant 9-0 region winning streak? Is it the tenacious Lions defense?
Or is it that these Lions are a team that Payson fans believe in?
The crowd swarmed the team as they cut down the net on their home floor Tuesday night in celebration of their region championship after mopping up the Juab Wasps. In a school with an already impressive basketball legacy, this 2012 squad is etching their names into the books.
Payson guards Clint Bateman and Tanner Newbold have led their team to a banner year. After an up and down pre-season, the Lions have taken their league play to another level with the Region 12 Championship. That’s one of their three team goals in the bag.
“We set three goals at the beginning of the year,” said Bateman after last night’s game. “To win a region championship, to go 10-0, and to win a state championship.”
One down, two to go.
“We’re almost 10-0,” said Bateman. “One more game to do it.”
The Lions (9-0) came into Tuesday’s game not willing to take any chances on a Juab team that they had handled three weeks prior in another blowout win. Juab (1-7) came into the contest having just upset Carbon a week before, and Payson knew that where the Wasps lack in ability, they make up for in aggressiveness.
Payson proceeded to put on a clinic on both ends of the floor as they jumped out to a 33-17 lead by the end of the first half.
Juab’s bigs underneath, Brayden Kaae and Jackson Jones, found themselves double- and triple-teamed every time they touched the ball. The Lions didn’t let them get anything easy under the basket; if they didn’t force Kaae and Jones to cough up the ball, they’d send them to the foul line.
On the offensive end, Clint Bateman led an unstoppable, balanced attack. Bateman finished the game with a double-double on 20 points and 11 assists, shooting 58 percent from the field.
Juab struggled to contain the five-man attack that featured scoring from every angle for the Lions. Newbold finished with 13 points, Kaleb Wright had 14, Bret Rowley added 10, Kade Jensen had nine points (all 3-pointers), and Jamon Lunt finished with seven.
When asked how he has been able to lead the team so well throughout the season, Bateman says he doesn’t know. “A lot from the team, good coaches,” he said after the game. “It’s kind of my role, so I just do my best.”
Out of halftime, Head Coach Dan Lunt had his team go to their effective full-court press defense. And again, it paid off as the Lions forced turnover after turnover in the backcourt.
“At halftime we kind of had a talk where we wanted to come out and put some pressure on them,” said Bateman.
The Lions continued to bury the Wasps deeper and deeper as the game went on, yet they never let off the gas. They pressed just as hard in the fourth quarter as they did at the beginning of the game. At one point, with his team up by 27 points with only two minutes left in the game, Bateman picked up his man at half court and harassed him into a turnover which Bateman turned into a fast-break layup on the other end.
Photos by Mike Swan
When asked how he manages to play that hard through the entire game, Bateman answered, “Juab’s not going to beat us but in the state championship we’ve got to keep up our intensity and play the whole game…so we’re just preparing for that I guess.”
Assistant Coach Craig Buys thinks it’s more than that. “He’s just a stud, that’s what he is,” said Buys of Bateman. “A stud.”
Payson High School’s Prinicipal, Ben Ford, is an ardent Lions basketball fan and can be found sitting in the crowd every game. After the game, he talked about the region championship and this year’s team.
“There’s nothing funner than to have a bunch of kids that can come out and win,” said Ford. “And the crowd support and student support is awesome…it’s just a lot of fun, they’re great kids.”
He hopes the Lions fans can bring the noise when Payson hosts the first round of Division 3A tournament play on Feb 18. “We’ll fill the place like we did tonight, it’ll be a great game, a great turnout,” he said.
The state tournament fast approaches, but the Lions have one last test before they can get into tournament mode. This Friday, they’ll face their rivals on the road in a rematch against the Spanish Fork Dons.
Last time the two teams met, the Lions rolled to a blowout home victory. This week, however, a dangerous Spanish Fork team will look to avenge their last game against Payson.
Ford thinks the Lions will do fine against the pressure of the upcoming five games, including their season closer in Spanish Fork. “I expect our kids to come out and respond well,” said Ford. “This team has responded well anytime there’s been any kind of competition, they’ve done extremely well.”
inSantaquin will be on the road to stream the Spanish Fork game LIVE on Friday – Tip-off @ 7:00 → Watch the game LIVE
Game stats for Payson Boy’s Basketball here from Maxpreps → Full stats
inSantaquin will be providing Full Tournament Coverage of the Payson Lions with a LIVE stream of all tournament games → Don’t miss the Lions’ road to the championship!