OREM — Closing out games has been a problem for Mountain View's boys basketball team this season, but that certainly wasn't the case Tuesday night in the Bruins' 61-58 win over crosstown rival Timpanogos.
In the game's final minutes, the Bruins showed poise, hit their free throws and ultimately walked away with a big region win at home.
Doing as much hasn't always been easy for Mountain View this season.
"Closing out games — that's kind of been our Achilles' heel," said Mountain View coach Nate Carling. “We’ve been ahead with four minutes to play in every game this year, and we’ve won most of them, but we’ve lost three of them with that lead and it came down to free throws in those games we lost.”
Mountain View made its free throws down the stretch Tuesday night to stave off a hard-charging and determined Timberwolves team.
It didn't start all that pretty from the line in the game's final minute, however. With just less than a minute remaining, and the Bruins clinging to a 56-53 lead, Mountain View missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Timpanogos responded to the miss with a driving layup from Zach Facemyer to cut Mountain View's lead to 56-55. A foreboding sense of deja vu began to creep over the Bruins' sideline.
"Yeah, that first miss wasn't a good way to start, but we made our shots after that," Carling said.
Mountain View's Spencer Conrad calmly sank both his free throws on the next possession, and after another Facemyer bucket cut the lead to 58-57 with 17 seconds left, Conrad sank two more.
“I’m grateful we got over that hump and knocked them in,” Carling said. “I’ve challenged the kids to be mentally tough and knock those in when they need to. I’m proud they responded and got it done tonight.”
Despite Mountain View's clutch foul shooting, Timpanogos wouldn't go away and found itself down 61-58 in possession of the ball with 6.8 seconds remaining. A last-second 3-point attempt from Jake Severe just glanced off the rim, however, as Mountain View won in regulation.
The Bruins were led by Manual Ortiz and his game-high 24 points. The senior forward started slow, but did his best work at the start of the fourth quarter to build a lead that his team ultimately held on to.
“You could kind of see it in his eye that he wanted to make a difference and an impact on the game,” Carling said about Ortiz. “He kind of forced one early, but he kept it together, wanted to make an impact. I’m just proud of his leadership.”
Timpanogos was led by Facemyer and his team-high 22 points.
With the win Mountain View improves to 14-3 on the year and 5-2 in Region 7 play. Next up for the Bruins is a home game versus Murray on Friday.
Timpanogos falls to 6-12 and 1-6 with the loss. The Timberwolves host Orem Friday.