PROVO — Westlake’s Thomas Larsen poured in a career-high 37 points to lead the Thunder over Provo 69-58 Tuesday night to avoid the cellar of Region 7.
“It must be something in the Provo water,” Larsen said.
The 6-foot 3 senior guard hit five 3-pointers, including four in the first quarter, and added 14 of 17 free throws, including 13 in the fourth period, to pace the visiting squad. He finished 26 points above his 11.74 scoring average. He was also averaging only 1.21 treys in his previous 19 games.
“(It was) a great team win with a lot of team defense and the entire team supporting in the offensive role,” Westlake coach David Robinson said.
With the win, Westlake moves to 3-8 in league play and 7-13 and remains in sixth place in the seven-team region, while Provo falls to 1-9 in region play and 4-16 overall.
Perhaps Larsen’s reference to Provo’s water stems from BYU guard Jimmer Fredette’s hot hand this season.
Larsen, however, was the first to admit he didn’t do it alone. Semi Taeoali’i handled the floor-general chores by keeping the ball moving and finding Larsen on the perimeter and Mana Niu down deep.
Niu ended with six points — all in the first quarter — as the visitors led by six, 20-14.
The Bulldogs owned the second quarter, however, limiting the Thunder to seven points while adding 13 to their tally to knot the score at 27-27 at the half. Provo’s Andrew Finch scored seven of his team-high 19 in the quarter.
Taeoali’i waited until the final period to do damage from the charity stripe where he hit 6 of 9 and a triple after a steal to push the Westlake lead to 45-35.
Finch, who scored 12 points in the final period, finished the game with two 3-point goals, three 2-point buckets and hit 7-of-8 shots from the charity stripe. Behind Finch, three more Bulldogs scored in double figures: Christian Santiago (11), Christopher Moore (10) and Tyrell Owens (10).
Westlake’s Manny Taeoali’i added 11 points — all in the second half — on two 2-pointers and 7-of-10 free throws.
The Thunder now faces Lehi Friday to finish their league schedule, while Provo travels to No. 1 Timpview on Friday before closing out the season with Timpanogos next Tuesday.