SALT LAKE CITY — Dallin Hall and Baylor Harrop met in elementary school. Which exact grade they met, either third, fourth or fifth grade, they weren’t sure.
The point is, they’ve known each other for a long time, played basketball with each other for a long time, grown up with each other. So has the group of Fremont High boys basketball seniors.
That fact added to an impossibly special evening for the Silverwolves on Saturday at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah.
Fremont and Davis met in the 6A boys basketball state championship game in front of a roaring crowd, the third time they’d matched up this season. Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was in attendance.
The Silverwolves, a team known for offense and burning up the nets, relied on defense to see out their first state championship since 2005 with a 55-52 win over the Darts.
“All-time high, man. All-time high,” Hall said. “Just to see it all come through, all the work, the grinding, blood, sweat and tears, for it all to pay off against those guys, it was a great feeling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Davis had the ball with 44.2 seconds left out of a timeout and trailing 55-52, called a play, but head coach Chad Sims called timeout 18 seconds later after Fremont’s defense didn’t allow a clean look at the basket.
The Darts came out of another timeout with 26.2 seconds left, again met an impenetrable wall of Silverwolves’ defenders and Sims again called timeout with about 10 seconds left.
The next result was the same. A missed shot ended up in the hands of Hall, who chucked the ball as high as he could and started the celebration at mid-court.
“That was like the longest 45 seconds of my life,” Hall said.
Davis won the two regular-season meetings 85-74 at Fremont and 75-39 at home, so the Silverwolves needed to do something different Saturday to win.
For starters, they didn’t get blown out of the water before halftime.
“It’s just so great. So happy for these guys, for our community. Our girls (basketball team is) so good and that’s all we try to do is try to win like them,” head coach Corey Melaney said.
Fremont led 27-25 at the break despite taking eight fewer shots — the Silverwolves did shoot 64.3% — and committing nine turnovers to Davis’ four.
In the other two meetings, the Darts led the entire game, including 36-23 and 40-12 at halftime.
Fremont led 45-41 going into the fourth when Hall notched a double-double with his 10th assist, finding Harrop for a basket inside and a 47-41 lead.
As one would expect, Davis came back and tied the game. Jax Pearce got a putback to go down before Spencer Vernon stole the ball from Mitch Stratford’s hands and made a fast-break layup.
Fremont ultimately led for 23:22 of the 32 minutes played and took back the lead on a Hall drive after a great defensive possession by Davis.
Pearce responded inside. Then Hall knocked down a midrange shot to retake the lead 51-49.
Pearce tied it again with an inside bucket. Hall drew a double-team and dumped to Harrop inside for a lead that would prove to be the last lead change.
But still, Davis had the ball and a chance to tie.
“We were switching everything right there so communication was key. We talked really well, we were in great position and forced him to dribble it out there for a long time,” Hall said of Davis’ long final possession.
Nobody led by more than 6 points the entire game, a thrilling climax to what’s been one of the most exciting Region 1 basketball seasons in recent history.
Three of the four semifinal teams were from Region 1. No one knows exactly how long it’s been since an all-Region 1 title game.
It was a typical Fremont team scoring performance, too. Hall had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. Baylor Harrop scored 12 with five rebounds.
Mitch Stratford went 3 of 4 from 3-point range and scored 11 points. Tige Voorhees scored 10 and Fremont’s shooting percentage was 62.5% (20 for 32).
Hall, Harrop, Stratford and Voorhees played all 32 minutes of the game.
And at the most important time, the Silverwolves held a Davis team averaging 70 points per game to 52.
“We changed up a couple things on their ball screens and it worked out. They missed some shots early and maybe rattled some confidence. It’s a big stage, it’s hard to play. I mean, these kids are 17 and 18 years old, it’s hard to play here. And we just, I don’t know ...” Melaney said, eventually being at a loss for words.
Spencer Vernon led all scorers with 19 points for Davis as he relentlessly attacked Fremont’s basket. Trevan Leonhardt scored 16 on 6-of-9 shooting.
The Darts’ season ended with a 23-2 record and their quest for a first state title since 2002 continues.
“There’s nothing you can say, they poured their hearts and souls into not only that game but the whole season,” Davis coach Chad Sims said.
In Fremont’s locker room after the game, the anticipation was nearly exhausting for the players. They were positioned with water bottles, waiting for Melaney to walk in.
Melaney got two words out of his mouth before the team mobbed him. His solid blue dress shirt became soaked all the way through.
One of the assistant coaches told the players that Mitchell tweeted about how Hall was a “hooper.” Hall’s teammates drenched him.
Mitchell sought out Hall later and complimented his game and asked him how his college recruitment was going.
Fremont put all of the chips on the table this season with its 10-strong senior class of kids who’ve known each other for, well, ever.
It paid off and it made things that much more special for them.
“Honestly it puts so much more on it. The memories we have together, I mean the amount of ball we played not just at Fremont but before, we’ve been crushing since a long time ago. To win the ultimate goal with them is a dream come true to me,” Hall said.
“Kipp (Calder) and Mitch, I went to elementary school with them so and we were friends in elementary. Kindergarten, we were friends,” Harrop said.
Melaney said he couldn’t have written the script for this season any better.
ACADEMIC STATE CHAMPS
With a team GPA of 3.877, Weber High boys basketball was the 6A academic state champions. Weber coach Landon Cosby was on hand as the Warriors were honored at halftime of the game with an announcement.