By Steven Law
Special to the Chronicle
PAGE – The Sand Devils took second in the 2019 Boys Lake Powell Holiday Classic on Saturday, losing to the Hurricane Tigers 59-44.
The Sand Devils qualified for the championship game by defeating Kingman Academy 55-18 Thursday night, and the Rancho (Las Vegas) Rams 52-48 Friday night.
In Saturday’s game, Page senior guard Jordan Varner got his second foul less than three minutes into the game and spent the rest of the first half off the court. Through pluck, hustle and good defense, the Sand Devils stayed with the Tigers (Utah) until halfway through the third quarter. The first 20 minutes of the game saw six lead changes and five ties.
Page junior guard Robert Smith was the leading scorer. He obtained the team’s first points after he stole the ball from a Tigers point guard and returned it to their basket for two points. The Tigers fired right back with two, three-point plays.
With the Tigers leading 8-4, Robert Smith hit two free throw points, followed by a three-pointer which cut the lead to one, and more importantly, swung the momentum back to the Sand Devils.
The Tigers played a tight defense, and in the beginning minutes of the game the Sand Devils struggled to find seams to the inside. But in the final minutes of the first quarter, they began making inroads to the inside.
A pass from Page sophomore guard Maurice Smith to junior point guard Stuart Sandall to freshman guard Orlandon Yazzie who laid it into the basket, cutting the Tigers’ lead to two. The Tigers led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Sandall’s score tied the game at 10 and Maurice Smith added two from the foul line to give the Sand Devils their first lead since the opening minute of the game. For the rest of the second quarter and halfway through the third quarter, the lead switched between the two teams four times.
With 4 minutes and 14 seconds left in the third quarter, the game was tied at 29. At that point, two events occurred at nearly the same time that gave the Tigers the advantage. The Tigers switched to a full-court pressure defense, and 30 seconds after that Sandall left the game with an injury to his hip.
The Tiger’s pressure defense resulted in seven immediate turnovers, and with Sandall out of the game, they were able to open up shop underneath the basket. They went on an 18-point scoring run, during which time the Sand Devils added just six points. At the end of the third quarter the Tigers led 47-35.
In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Robert Smith took command of his team’s offense and dropped in back-to-back, three-pointers, but the Tigers met the Sand Devils point-for-point.
To the relief of the Sand Devil faithful, Sandall returned to the game with 3:39 remaining in the game, but by then the Sand Devils were too far behind to catch up. The Tigers went on to win the 41st annual Boys Lake Powell Holiday Classic 59-44.
Robert Smith was the leading scorer for the Sand Devils Saturday with 21 points, followed by Sandall with 8, Holiday with 8 and Maurice Smith with four.
Robert Smith and Sandall were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
Senior guard Ezra Larson took first place in the three-point contest.