WX hoops 1

Woods Cross High forward Tyler Roberts goes up to the basket during the Wildcats' 5A boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal against Springville on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, at the University of Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — The lead was double digits, as high as 15 points, for a big part of the second half.

Everything looked like Woods Cross would have a chance to at least play for its first boys basketball state championship since 1983.

But there must be something in the voodoo fabric of Utah high school basketball that results in Springville breaking Woods Cross hearts.

Three years ago in the 4A state tournament, it was a banked in, buzzer-beating, overtime 3-pointer that ended the Wildcats' hopes as the Red Devils embarked on a surprising state-title run.

Thursday night, the Red Devils, led by Idaho State-bound center Zach Visentin, roared back little by little in the fourth quarter, taking a late lead and watching the Wildcats' long heave at the buzzer fall short to beat WX 71-69 at University of Utah's Huntsman Center.

It ended an objectively entertaining duo of boys basketball semifinals, but a duo that yielded nothing but heartbreaking losses for Davis County teams. 

Earlier in the evening, Farmington lost on a bouncing buzzer beater. The nightcap was just as cruel to Woods Cross, the Region 5 champions.

"I think we just got a little tight (down the stretch), we had a pretty good lead and they got a little bit of a run. I think our guys got a little bit tight," WX head coach Jeff Jorgensen said. "We tried to keep them calmed down but that's a pretty intense atmosphere for a bunch of youngsters so we didn't hold our composure that well." 

Woods Cross forward Tyler Roberts, the main post defender on Visentin, got into foul trouble so the Wildcats defended the big senior with a much smaller player. Visentin shot 11 of 14 with 25 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.

The Red Devils applied full-court pressure late in the game. It caused a handful of WX turnovers and missed shots.

"We tried to pick up full court and we gave up two layups right away because the guys were a little flustered thinking they had to have (the ball) no matter what," Springville coach Justin Snell said. "We were just trying to get them to understand, we wanted to take it when we could but we're not trying to steal it from the guy with the ball, we're trying to steal the pass."

Jorgensen said he was surprised the pressure bothered WX like it did. The Wildcats have closed out several games this season where they had to hold on to a big lead while facing a ton of pressure.

The Wildcats had one of their typical balanced scoring efforts, a big reason for their lead in the first place. Quaid Knell led Woods Cross with 15 points, Roberts and Jake Howe scored 13, Davis Creer had 11 with seven rebounds, and Elliot Spencer scored 10 points.

"We had a great year, we accomplished a lot of things. We made some decisions down the stretch that we shouldn't have made, we're not going to dissect the game now with these guys," Jorgensen said. "They're a great group of kids, great group of people, they've been just a ball to coach."

Spencer walked out of the locker room still in his uniform, his jersey covering his face. He gasped a couple times, took a deep breath and walked back into the locker room. The players wouldn't emerge for several more minutes.

The coaches were standing in the hallway not quite as despondent, but still wondering where it went wrong and what, if anything, they could've done differently.

You can reach prep sports reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @patrickcarr_ and on Facebook at facebook.com/patrickcarr17/.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!