First time in over 20 years that Payson has gone 10-0 in region
FINAL: Payson 78, Spanish Fork 64
“It feels good to make your mark on history,” said Payson guard Skyler Rowley.
Yes, it does.
For the first time in more than two decades the Payson High School boys basketball team finished region play with a perfect 10-0 record, solidifying this 2012 squad’s spot in Payson’s history books.
The tenth win came after a hard-fought battle on a rival court. Spanish Fork (4-6) wanted revenge for their blowout loss to Payson two weeks prior. They were also playing for the fourth spot in the state tournament.
They weren’t able to exact revenge this night. And a North Sanpete win, coupled with Spanish Fork’s loss means that those two teams will have a play-in game on Tuesday to determine who goes to the tournament.
Payson, on the other hand, was able to hold off the pesky Dons with a 78-64 win behind Clint Bateman’s 27-point effort.
The game stayed close in the first half, with Spanish Fork knocking down tough shots to erase several Payson leads. The Dons were aggressive attacking the basket and were rewarded as Payson’s starters got into early foul trouble. Spanish Fork guard Clay Banks kept his team within striking distance, converting a Payson turnover into a layup and-one as time expired in the first quarter. He and Dons guard Elliot Naulu both had 20 points in a losing cause as they slowly cooled off throughout the night.
By the end of the first half the Lions protected an uncomfortable seven-point lead. Payson came out of halftime, however, with a new resolve.
The third quarter opened with a 9-0 run by the Lions, which was capped off by a Bateman three that caused Spanish Fork to call a timeout. Out of the timeout the Lions didn’t stop, though. Payson’s Tanner Newbold knocked down two more three-pointers and Bateman beat the third-quarter buzzer with a mid-range jumper to extend their lead to 62-46.
The Dons made mini runs in the fourth in an attempt to close the gap, but their focus on Bateman and Newbold opened up Payson forwards Jamon Lunt and Kaleb Wright. Bateman found Lunt wide open under the basket on a number of plays and Wright spread the floor with mid-range jump shots.
The Dons never recovered.
Payson Head Coach Dan Lunt gave credit to both teams after the game. “Spanish made some tough shots, particularly in the first half,” he said. “We just have to credit our kids, they was resilient and kept knocking down shots and kind of weathered the storm.”
Bateman’s leadership was key to the victory as he consistently drew double- and triple-teams. Payson was able to share the ball well throughout the game and Bateman was able to capitalize when he was isolated.
Leading all scorers, Bateman’s 27-point night matches a previous season high for him set during Payson’s San Diego tournament in the pre-season. He was also only three rebounds away from a triple-double. He finished the night with 27 points, 10 assists, and seven boards on 57 percent shooting. When asked about his dominant offensive production Bateman spoke about his role as a point guard.
“My first goal is to try to facilitate and get everyone involved,” said Bateman. “Assist first and score second.”
Bateman is averaging almost six dimes per game, and each game Payson’s assists seem to get better. The team has all benefited from the unselfish play and have noticed a major difference in ball movement from the start of the season.
“I think we just started trusting each other more and saw that when we move the ball we’re a lot better team,” said Payson backup guard Kade Jensen, who seems to have found his shooting stroke as of late.
Newbold agrees. “We know each other’s strengths and what we can do,” he said. “So we just find each other and everyone can get their shots.”
Now Payson (17-4 overall), can put their 10-0 season behind them and look forward to their next target.
“It’s good,” said Bateman of their perfect 10-0 record. “But we have our eyes on bigger goals.”
The four-game road to the state championship starts next Saturday in Payson, where the Lions will play either Bear River or Stansbury from Region 11 in round one. If Payson wins that game they’ll be off to St. George where the last three rounds of the state tournament will be held at Dixie State College.
Newbold thinks he knows what it will take for the Lions to win a state championship. “We’ve got to continue to come play every game,” he said. “Just like how we’ve gone 10-0 we have to do that for four more games.”
Kaleb Wright had 17 points, Tanner Newbold hit four 3-pointers, and Bret Rowley fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
inSantaquin will be LIVE streaming the tournament games. Round 1 is on Feb 18 @ 7:00 p.m. → Watch it here
Full stats available from MaxPreps → Payson stats
Keep up with the Lions’ Championship run with the UHSAA Tournament Bracket -> Available here