We wanted to show that last week wasn't our best game. —Bryce Valley coach Eric Jessen
RICHFIELD — Bryce Valley High School's boys were looking for more than a trip to the 1A championship as they prepared to take on rivals Wayne in Friday's semifinal game.
The Mustangs were looking for vindication for their performance at the Region 20 tournament the previous week.
Bryce Valley earned that vindication as they secured a 50-40 win over the Badgers.
"We wanted to show that last week wasn't our best game," said Bryce Valley coach Eric Jessen. Friday's game was the fourth meeting between the two teams this year.
Bryce Valley won the first two in regular league play, but the Badgers eliminated the Mustangs from contention in the Region 20 tourney last week in a 56-55 thriller. Wayne went on to take the region title.
The key for Bryce Valley would be to take Wayne's top scoring play, Ty Rees, out of his usual zone. Rees scored 26 and 38 points in the last two tournament games, making him a lethal threat.
"We felt like Dirk Chynoweth is one of our best defensive players, so we put him on Rees and switched that up," Jessen said. The change-up worked, as Chynoweth was successful in holding Rees to six points during the game.
Even though Bryce Valley led through the entire game, it wasn't easy according to Braxton Syrett, who totaled 11 points for the Mustangs.
"It was a tough game, we battled," Syrett said.
Chynoweth hit a 3-pointer to start things off, followed by a bucked from Syrett, giving the Mustangs a 5-0 edge.
Wayne's Drayston Nelson hit a trey, bringing the Badgers back within two. Eddie Dunham banged into the paint for a bucket for Bryce Valley. Teammate Jacob Pearson hit first of three 3-pointers of the night on his way to a game high 19 points. Dunham added another field goal from inside the perimeter.
Wayne's Nelson added two points from the charity stripe, followed by an inside bucket by Brock Taylor, pulling the Badgers four points.
Then Syrett canned a 3-pointer at the first period buzzer to give Bryce Valley a 16-9 edge.
Bryce Valley took on the next run as Chynoweth and Syrett both nailed inside baskets, and Pearson pumped in a 3-pointer.
Wayne's Rees responded a trey of his own, followed by teammate Taylor Albrecht, who put one in from under the hoop.
Bryce Valley's Syrett drained a downtowner 1.3 seconds before the break.
Rees was fed the ball, and threw a ringer from half-court, which went in and cut the lead to 26-23 to end the half.
Zack came back on the court to start the second half with a field goal, pulling Wayne to within one point. It was the closest the Badgers would get, as Bryce Valley outscored Wayne 9-6 in the third period.
The momentum continued to roll in Bryce Valley's through the remainder of the game.
Bryce Valley is now set to take on Layton Christian at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield Saturday. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m.