Another big game from Jake Toolson. A strong finish by tiny guard Christian Sanchez and an overtime-producing three by Austin Witherill on Friday night highlighted Highland's come-from-behind 79-70 victory in overtime over Orem, Utah to close out the second day of olay at thge Visitmesa.com Basketball Challenge at Mesa's Mountain View High School.
Toolson, Highland's 6-foot-5 play-any-spot-on-the-floor senior, poured in a season-high tying 39 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. His offense helped Highland overcome a 41-29 halftime deficit as he made shots from well-beyond the 3-point line and posted up enough to balance his production and keep Orem on its toes. Witherill finished with 15 points and Sanchez added nine, all late in the second half.
Hghland (10-2) took 4 1/2 minutes to tie the game at 44 after intermission. They soon fell back by as many as six, but battled back again and took the lead a couple times in the final minutes thanks to a burst of quickness and energy from Sanchez. Sanchez scored a couple of layups, jetting by what looked to be tired defenders as the Hawks went in front, 62-61 with 2:55 to play.
A three-point play by Orem's Dalton Nixon put the Tigers back up 64-62. Orem added a couple free throws and led 66-63 with 15 seconds left. Sanchez saved a game-tying possession with a steal after Orem's Quinn Peters swiped the ball from Highland. Witherill ended up with the ball at the top of they key and swished it for 3 to with 6.4 seconds to force overtim.
The overtime was all Highland. Cole McEuen tallied on a rebound of a Toolson miss for a 68-66 lead and Witherill bumped it to 70-66 with two free throws. Jake Emanuel and McEuen scored to push the lead to five and Toolson, who signed with BYU earlier, made five free throws in the final 30 seconds to close it out.
“Ugly first half, better second half,” Highland coach Derrick Donaldson said. “We've been in some close games. We''re used to it. Sometimes they're not pretty, but I'll take it.”
Highland likely benefitted from the extra session and the tough, physical game. Highland used eight players extensively while Orem barely played six other than the final seconds of overtime when reserves entered to commit fouls.
Cooper Holt scored 27 points to lead Orem (3-4). Nixon added 22 points and Peters chipped in 10.