SALT LAKE CITY — Dalton Nixon had every reason to walk right past the three reporters standing outside Orem’s locker room on Saturday. But he didn’t.
He had every reason to feel unbelievably sorry himself after missing two free throws with two seconds left in Orem’s 44-43 heartbreaking loss to Bountiful in the 4A state championship. But he didn’t
Sure, he admits the missed free throws “will always haunt me,” but he’s the type of kid that won’t let the misses define him.
“I’m just proud to play with my brothers and my teammates. We made a great run this year and I’m really proud of that,” said the BYU commit. “Obviously things weren’t how we wanted them to finish, but life goes on. I’m just happy to have had a great four years with this program, and I’m thankful for all my coaches and all my teammates that have supported me. It’s been a great run.”
During those four years, Nixon helped turn a dormant program into one of 4A’s best leading the Tigers to the state championship in 2012 and a 70-16 record. He ends his career with 1,367 career points, including averaging 20.2 his senior year.
Nixon’s still in disbelief, however, with how the last few seconds of his career unfolded.
When Nixon corralled an offensive rebound and was quickly fouled with two seconds left, he thought for sure the Tigers were going to win. So did coach Golden Holt.
“If you let us play that game 1,000 times and say Dalton’s on the line down one with two seconds to go, we’d say let’s just go right there. We’d take our chances with that, it’s kind of a weird thing,” said Holt.
Nixon said his first free throw miss felt long when it left his hand, but said the second one felt good.
“I thought it was going to drop, and then back rim and front rim and out. It was a tough one, just kind of disbelief at that point. Everything you work for to end the season with the loss,” said Nixon.
Nixon knows he missed an opportunity to alter Saturday’s ending, but he was reminded afterward that all of his teammates could’ve too — especially with Orem making just 3 of 11 free throws.
“There was a bunch of plays that added up to that, that could’ve gone either way. I don’t look at it as you win or lose that game on the last free throws because you have chances throughout the whole game,” said Nixon.
Afterward, Nixon said he was happy for his friends on Bountiful, Sam Merrill, Zac Seljaas and Trevor Lloyd, for their happy ending.
Nixon said he’ll tuck away the disappointment deep in his memory bank, and given a similar opportunity at BYU after serving his LDS Mission, “you know I’m going to knock those down next time.”