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Free throws power Wildcats in second half

Sandy sees its nine-game win streak snapped at home against Wilsonville


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Zach Gilbert drives toward the basket during Fridays 55-45 loss to Wilsonville. It had been more than a month since the Sandy boys’ basketball team had tasted defeat, but the Pioneers floated back to reality on Friday. They saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end as they were upended by Wilsonville, 55-45.

The two schools were equally-physical defensively in the first half, leading to a 27-27 halftime tie. That level of physicality prevailed in the second half, but the two men with striped shirts and whistles didn’t see it that way.

Sandy allowed just two field goals in the second half – and none in the fourth quarter – in what the Pioneers believe was a sound defensive effort, but the officials called a plethora of fouls on Sandy without reservation. Wilsonville attempted 35 free throws in the second half alone, 27 of which came in the fourth period. Of the Wildcats’ 28 second-half points, 24 came from the line.

By comparison, Sandy attempted 15 free throws in the whole game, and just six in the second half.

“I don’t know what happened. I thought my kids were being pretty strong, and we are a pretty tall team,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “I thought it was pretty even in the first half, and then it was just one of those things where it feels like everything is going against you. That happens sometimes.”

The Pioneers managed to get whistled for just about every type of foul imaginable. Some of the calls were legitimate, while others were laughable.

There was one string of calls early that was particularly perplexing to the Sandy parents and students.

On one play, a Sandy player dove for a loose ball, only to have a Wilsonville player jump on top of him. The Pioneers were whistled for the foul. A short time later, Sandy’s Hunter Rowe dove and stretched for another loose ball. He just missed the ball and his hand caught the pant-leg of a Wildcat’s shorts. The official tagged Rowe with a flagrant foul, then stared down the Sandy senior for several seconds on his way to the scorers’ table.

By the middle of the fourth quarter, Wilsonville had no need to try and make shots from the field. On multiple occasions, the Wildcats drove to the hoop and wildly tossed the ball up in the general direction of the rim. They were bailed out most of the time, despite Sandy’s deliberate effort to keep its hands straight up. There was one such drive in which the Sandy defender moved out of the way to avoid contact, and he still got called for a foul.

As drastic as the free-throw gap was, the Pioneers could have avoided the situation entirely if they had finished the first half the way opened it. Sandy torched the Wildcats early and dashed out to a 15-5 lead by the end of the first quarter. In the second period, Wilsonville sophomore Tyler Hieb brought the Wildcats back. Hieb went 4-for-4 from 3-point land in the quarter, and only one of his treys even touched the rim. His 15 second-quarter points doused Sandy’s first-quarter momentum.

“If we would’ve had a hand up on him a few times, the whole game might have had a different feel, because he was their offense in the first half,” Maki said. “We can focus on referees all we want, but we lost the game when we let him bring them back.”

Hieb led Wilsonville with 24 points in the contest. Canyon Dwyre was Sandy’s leader with 13 points. Timmy Grozav scored nine points for Sandy – all in the final period.