EDWARDS — Discovery Canyon boys basketball was firmly in control of its first-round matchup with Battle Mountain through three quarters, leading by nine points, only to see that lead slip away.
As the fourth quarter opened, the lead went to seven, then five — then two. But Discovery Canyon was unfazed. Thunder coach Paul Campbell opted to not take a timeout, and let his players push through the spurt.
It paid off.
Jaxon Smith hit a layup off a fast-break with about four minutes to play which stopped Battle Mountain's 7-0 run, and sparked an 8-0 run for Discovery Canyon.
"We had gotten a couple of good looks and just missed them," Campbell said. "It was just one of those things. At that point, I try to do my best to trust them, and save those timeouts."
Of the bucket, which pushed Discovery Canyon's lead to four points, he added: "That was a backdoor cut, we drew that play up. We tried it earlier in the quarter, and we couldn't get the look because they were playing really good defense on us, and we couldn't slip that. But that was a really great job by Jaxon, and a good job getting the ball to him."
The Thunder, seeded No. 36, went on to upset No. 29 Battle Mountain 44-36 in the Class 4A tournament. They advance to play No. 4 Golden on Saturday.
On Wednesday, Discovery Canyon and Battle Mountain were tied at 13 after the first quarter. The Thunder adjusted their defensive focus to Battle Mountain star Liam McKenny, and it worked: They held the Huskies to just two points in the second quarter as they grabbed a 24-15 lead.
"We applied a little bit more pressure to them, and we had to double-up (McKenny)," Campbell said. "He's such a good player. He's so strong, he's a big kid. The thing that's special about him is that he can play with his back to the basket, and he can also face up and go after you. So he's a hard guy; you want the ball out of his hands.
"That was our biggest adjustment: to get the ball out of his hands. And we limited his possessions in the second quarter."
The game stayed about that margin with Discovery Canyon holding a 35-26 lead after three quarters.
McKenny broke through for 13 second-half points, and finished with a game-high 20.
But Discovery Canyon's team defense and balanced offense was the difference. Smith led the Thunder with 19 points, and Ethan Hall had 14 points.
"That's a good team," Campbell said. "That's a really good team. Coach did a good job, and they were really well-prepared. It was back-and-forth. We jumped out on them in the second quarter but, man, they fought back. Two good teams, I think, and they were both well-prepared, and it just happened to go our way."