OGDEN – Bountiful’s Sam Merrill scored a game-high 35 points with five assists against the Sky View Bobcats in the 4A semifinal game at the Dee Events Center.
But it wasn’t enough to win the game, as a buzzer-beating half-court shot made by Jalen Moore in the first overtime propelled the Bobcats into the finals with a 63-60 win Friday night.
The win for Sky View means a 4A title game appearance against Mountain Crest Saturday at 4 p.m.
“It was one for the ages,” said Braves coach Mike Maxwell. “We get down and come back, then down again, and come back again. It was just a back-and-forth game from start to finish, and it took a miracle to beat us.”
The key play that gave Sky View a chance at a game winner came with under 10 seconds remaining in the overtime period. With Bountiful dribbling down the court, Merrill lost the ball and ended up getting into a scuffle with Sky View before one of the Bobcats was able to pick up the ball and call a time out.
With Sky View inbounding near half court, Moore caught the ball, dribbled once, and then threw up a high arching shot as the buzzer sounded. The ball went through the net to end the game and Bountiful’s season.
“We had the play scouted,” said Maxwell. “But when you hit a 50-footer with a guy on you there’s nothing you can do. Like it said before, it took that miracle to beat us.”
Five of Bountiful’s eight overtime points came from Merrill, who made a key three-point play that gave the Braves a slim lead. He later made two more free throws to give the Braves a three point lead before Moore tied the game with a late 3-pointer.
Sky View forward Matt Dewey praised Merrill’s point total, stating he was “surprised” by how many points Merrill had by the end of the game.
“He’s a great player,” said Dewey about Merrill. “We knew he was going to make shots, and we tried to defend him as best we could. It obviously didn’t work out, but we made the shot we needed to make and came out with the win.”
Bountiful found itself down by nine points following the first quarter as center Nate Pollard ended up sitting on the bench for the majority of the quarter. Once Pollard returned to the floor, he and Zach Seljaas combined to score Bountiful’s next 10 points as the Braves closed their deficit to two points at the half.
“He made a defensive mistake in the first quarter and he knew it,” said Maxwell of the early benching. “But he came back in, knew what he had to do and he did it. Really he has no place to go but up; he’s got that much potential.”
Trailing by five entering the fourth quarter, Merrill guided the Braves to a run that eventually saw Bountiful gain the lead for the first time in the game. In the first four minutes of the quarter, Merrill scored seven of Bountiful’s 10 points and gave the Braves a 48-47 lead with four minutes to go in regulation.
“That’s probably one of the top-scoring games I’ve ever seen,” said Maxwell. “Most people score 35 points and don’t even think about passes. He just had a special game.”
Merrill was the only Brave to score in double figures. Seljaas scored nine points on three 3-pointers, and had three assists and two blocks.
Bountiful ends the season with a 21-4 overall record, and went undefeated at 10-0 in Region 6 to claim a region title. Before the loss, Bountiful won 20 straight games in the season, and extended school records by winning 21 straight games at home and 13 on the road, not including playoffs.
“This team has set the bar really high,” said Maxwell. “I’m proud of what they did.”