SALT LAKE CITY — Cherish possessions and you shall be rewarded.
Throughout the season Kearns showcased its athleticism and length, which rivals any program in the state. However, the ability to push the tempo has unintentionally resulted in sporadic offensive play at certain junctures — specifically during its 56-47 win over Spanish Fork in the first round of the 4A basketball tournament Monday.
In the first quarter Bushmen Ebet was whistled with a technical foul for hanging on the rim after he rocked a two-handed dunk. The call deflated the Cougars rhythm — the preferable get-up-and-go, playground style. Suddenly the offense became impatient and flustered, which resulted in a mere four points in the entire second quarter and a halftime deficit.
Typically straying away from an identity is detrimental, especially in the postseason. Not for Kearns. The Cougars adjusted in the second half and patiently searched for better possessions and cleaner looks while emphasizing defensive intensity.
“The philosophy was we’re not going to let them beat us at their game,” Kearns coach Dan Cosby said. “If I had to bring it out then I would. It really was just a temptation, ‘I’ll sit out and wait if we have to.’”
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Kearns discarded its identity completely with a one-point lead. The Cougars challenged Spanish Fork to extend its defense to midcourt as it dwindled the clock toward double zeros. The Dons were left without decisions and once they conceded, Kearns exploited their stretched defense with its athleticism on dribble penetration.
“The whole time I was thinking I wanted to penetrate,” said Cosby, whose team outscored Spanish Fork 38-21 in the second half. “I wanted them to get up and start attacking.”