TAYLORSVILLE — Every team's goal is ultimately to practice on the day before the state championship game.
The Davis Darts will do that, surviving a high-stress 6A boys basketball state semifinal on Thursday night at Salt Lake Community College that they won 63-54 against No. 3 Corner Canyon.
A huge part of Davis' win was the second-half play of Chance Trujillo, who scored all 20 of his points after halftime, including a 12-point third quarter with four 3-pointers that ignited the Darts and their fans.
Davis junior guard Rex Sunderland finished the game down the stretch. Sunderland had a game-high 25 points and shot 13 of 17 from the line to go with five boards and three steals.
"Corner Canyon's phenomenal, they got players that are so skilled so I just credit our guys for grinding it out until we got a little bit of rhythm," Davis head coach Chad Sims said. "Then Chance got us going, then Rex kind of finished it up. By then we had held ourselves in the game defensively and had given ourselves a chance."
It was another upset win for No. 7 Davis in the playoffs, which won on the road at No. 2 Pleasant Grove on Tuesday before taking down the No. 3 Chargers on Thursday.
Offensively, the Darts had things going after halftime but defensively, they were locked in all game against one of the best post players in the state, Corner Canyon's Carter Welling.
Welling was held to seven points on 1-of-4 shooting with 12 rebounds.
"We played him just like Ethan Potter. We were going to play his right hand, we know when he's going right he's shooting it, and trusting our defensive rotation and I can go and help and I'll have backside help. It's just that trust and we build off that," Trujillo said.
There are many differences with this year’s state basketball tournament than in years past.
This one is at Salt Lake Community College instead of the University of Utah or Weber State with limited attendance due to COVID-19 protocols, which also includes mandatory mask-wearing and physical distancing.
The latter wasn’t enforced as student sections packed into the bleachers like sardines, but the former was enforced.
With 2:56 left in the first quarter, the public address announcer said over the microphone that the game was being paused so that people could put on their masks. The PA announcer had to make the announcement again before the game resumed.
It was the second time Thursday he made that same announcement, having done so early in the third quarter of the Herriman-Lone Peak girls semifinal in the afternoon.
The announcement broke up what was an ugly first half filled with missed shots and turnovers.
Corner Canyon led Davis 18-14 at the break after both teams combined for 15 turnovers, 13-of-45 shooting from the field and 4-of-22 shooting from 3-point range.
Then Trujillo came alive.
"In the beginning, I was still getting used to like where the 3-point line was, like finding that distance," he said.
After scoring zero points in the first half on 0-of-3 shooting, Trujillo made four 3-pointers in the third quarter, making up most of Davis’ 16 points in the period, which itself was more than the Darts scored in the entire first half.
Whatever was causing the sloppy play in the first half seemed to disappear after halftime.
"I'd like to say we haven't been in this position before. We've been in this position before, it's kind of like we play good enough defense until our offense gets going," Sims said.
The ball seemed to zip from side to side on Davis’ possessions at the start of the fourth quarter, then Trujillo made another long ball to start the quarter off on a high.
At one point the Darts led 41-34 late in the fourth quarter after an and-one basket from Rex Sunderland. But Corner Canyon pulled back slowly, getting tough layups and putbacks to fall down.
Welling, the Chargers' big who had been quiet on the offensive end all night, rebounded a missed free throw with Davis up 49-48 in the closing seconds.
Welling was fouled, made one foul shot and Davis had the ball for the last shot, where Trujillo passed to Austin Frasure for a corner 3-pointer that fell short.
The game went to overtime and that enough was familiar for the Darts, who played in an epic triple-overtime semifinal at the Dee Events Center two years ago against American Fork, ultimately losing in the final seconds.
This time they held their nerve. Sunderland scored 11 of his 25 points in overtime and went 9 of 10 from the line in the extra time.
The Darts will face No. 1 Westlake in Saturday afternoon's state final after the Thunder beat American Fork in the earlier semifinal.
Last year, Davis came agonizingly close to beating Fremont in the state title game only to see a last-ditch 3-pointer fall short.
Davis brought back just one starter from that team (Sunderland) and were the No. 7 seed in the playoffs this year instead of the No. 1 seed, but they're still going to go to practice Friday on the eve of the season's final game.