Pioneers can't overcome 21-point halftime deficit

by: POST PHOTO: KRISTOPHER ANDERSON  - Sandy senior Jacob Groom scored a team high 16 points, went 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and recorded two steals in an 80-57 loss to the Lakeridge Pacers last Saturday at Sandy High School.

There was talk among the Sandy boys basketball team about trying to respond better to adversity this season. But it didn’t matter how the Pioneers handled the tribulations they faced on Saturday. There was no way they could keep up with Lakeridge’s torrential downpour of buckets.

The Pacers knocked down copious three pointers while also manhandling the Pioneers in the paint in the early going, all of which equated to a defiant 80-57 win in the championship game of the Sandy Invitational tournament at Sandy High School.

“It was the perfect storm Saturday night — they played and shot really well in the first quarter, and we played and shot really poorly,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said.

From the opening tip, Sandy was bounced out of contention.

Lakeridge enjoyed a feeding frenzy by setting up around the perimeter and hitting threes, which helped build an 18-3 lead late in the first quarter.

Doing the majority of the damage was Pacers guard Reggie Oliver, who almost singlehandedly ran Sandy out of the arena.

It didn’t matter if he played from the outside or dribbled into the paint, the Pioneers never found a remedy to combat the junior. He scored consecutive three pointers near the end of the first quarter, helping extend Lakeridge’s lead to 21 points. He torched the basket with 23 first-half points.

And by night’s end, he’d gone off for 36 points.

“We couldn’t stop him,” Maki said.

Lakeridge was only adding to its lead early in the second quarter.

After swinging the ball around the perimeter — basically playing “catch me if you can” with the Pioneers — Pacers guard Michael Walker hit a three and was fouled in the process. He made the free throw shot to complete the four-point play and extend the lead to 42-19.

Lakeridge was formidable from downtown and went 11-for-21 (52 percent) from three-point range.

The Pacers thwarted thoughts of a comeback after halftime by scoring three quick three-pointers to go ahead by 27 points.

But Sandy wasn’t ready to fold. Jacob Groom hit a three of his own early in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 63-45. But the Pacers were making a habit of responding to any important shot the Pioneers could muster.

Walker answered Groom’s three with a three of his own and finished with 15 points.

Groom went 4-for-8 beyond the arc and led the Pioneers with 16 points. Justin Adams followed with 15 points and a team high six rebounds.

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