LAYTON — The basketball literally dinked and deflected from Layton player to Layton player, off one player’s fist and nearly off another’s hand, as the Lancers tried to escape Northridge’s press defense late in the fourth quarter of a six-point game.
Eventually, a bounce pass made its way to a wide-open Collin Jeppson.
The 6-foot-10 senior threw down a monster two-handed dunk in front of the Layton student section, putting the exclamation point on a 74-63 win at crosstown rival Northridge (9-12, 4-6 Region 1) on Friday night that further cements the Lancers as the probable No. 3 seed from Region 1 come playoff time.
The breaking point was an 8-0 Layton run late in the fourth quarter that turned a 53-53 tie into a 61-53 Lancer lead with a Jeppson bucket sandwiched between two hotly disputed foul calls on Northridge.
Up to that point, it had been back and forth the entire second half. But where Northridge’s 15-point lead in the first half allowed the Knights to weather a long scoring drought, the well dried up again at precisely the wrong time, giving Layton (9-9, 6-3 Region 1) the last advantage it needed to send Northridge’s playoff hopes to the edge.
In grammatical terms, Jeppson’s dunk was the exclamation point on a long sentence that was choppy and ugly at first, hectic in the middle and secure at the end.
Layton’s plan, like pretty much every game, is to go inside-out on offense, throwing the ball to Jeppson and 6-foot-7 sophomore Ethan Potter.
The Lancers got the looks they wanted in the first half. Nothing else cooperated.
Northridge appropriately attacked the corners of the Lancers’ 1-3-1 zone defense, building a 26-11 lead midway through the second quarter and just about pushed Layton off course.
But not quite far enough.
“This group is starting to get to the point where I don’t have to take timeouts to bail them out,” head coach Kelby Miller said. “They’re getting to the point where they’re maturing and they’re able to play through those types of those things.”
A 12-0 Layton run cut the Northridge lead to 26-23 at the break as Micah Parkinson beat the first-half buzzer with a steal and layup.
The Lancers stuck to the inside-out plan in the second half and it worked in a back-and-forth third quarter that featured just one less point (48) than the entire first half (49).
“At halftime, coach was big on inside-out. Just keep pounding. The refs were calling fouls, so just keep attacking, just attack because our shots were not falling in the first half,” Layton junior Tanner Kofoed said.
What a way to end the half. Micah Parkinson with the layup at the buzzer. What was a 26-11 Northridge lead is now 26-23 pic.twitter.com/aFQ5eWTwYn— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) February 9, 2019
Kofoed had 22 points and made 11 of his 12 free throws. His emergence at point guard has been very helpful for Layton this season, Lancers head coach Kelby Miller said.
Jeppson and Potter kept getting good looks underneath, but they went in in the second half.
Potter co-led the team with 22 points, Jeppson had 19 and Layton went to them almost every possession.
Northridge made 3-pointers on four-straight third-quarter possessions (Duffin made three in a row and Trey Simms had the fourth) and, still, Layton led 49-48 heading to the fourth after a Jeppson bucket.
It was a 180-degree turnaround from the first half and gave the Lancers more than enough to win.
“We figured, just stick to the game plan, we’d be fine. Credit to (Northridge) for coming out and playing hard and playing with a lot of emotion, but credit for my guys for maintaining composure and riding that out a little bit,” Miller said.
That's the end. Layton goes on a run late and beats Northridge 74-63. pic.twitter.com/Za9pK6DkPJ— Patrick Carr (@patrickcarr_) February 9, 2019
Duffin led all scorers with 25 points and made five 3-pointers for Northridge. Simms scored 10.
As a team, Layton went 24 of 33 from the foul line and scored 51 points in the second half. The Knights only went to the line eight times.
“We had some really good looks, the ball just didn’t go in in some really timely minutes,” Knights head coach Lyndon Johnson said.
With Weber’s win over Fremont on Friday night, odds are that the No. 4 seed in Region 1 will come down to the Northridge-Weber showdown in a week-and-a-half. But the Knights need to beat Davis first and get some help.
Region 1 boys basketball is heading toward another thrilling ending.