The 1A Boys’ Basketball State Tournament was held at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield on February 27-March 2. The Valley Buffaloes faced one of the top ranked teams, Layton Christian, in the opening game of the tourney. Valley took the early 10-7 lead in the first quarter, and finished the half leading 21-15. The third period was a close battle as the Buffaloes scored one point more than the Eagles. Valley went on a run in the fourth, scoring 22 points. Many of those came from the free-throw line to claim the first-round victory 54-41. The Buffaloes made 19 of 29 free throws, compared to just three of 11 for Layton Christian. Deejay Riffle came off the bench to lead Valley with 17 points, including four treys. Colby Spencer dropped in 16 points.

In the quarterfinal game, Valley faced the Bryce Valley Mustangs for the third time this year. Bryce Valley came out strong on both ends of the court in the first minutes of the game, taking a 16-9 lead. By the end of the half, the Mustangs had increased the lead to 29-13. Valley played tough in the third and outscored Bryce Valley by a point. In the fourth, the Mustangs triumphed with a final score of 63-39. Colby Spencer was the only Buffalo to score in double figures with 22 points.

On the consolation side of the bracket, Valley faced the Tintic Miners on Friday. The Miners held a slim two point advantage at the half 28-26. The second half belonged to the Buffaloes, as they went on a 30-17 run to stay alive in the tourney with a 56-45 win. Valley had three players score 10 points apiece: Dallen Esplin, Clint Sorensen and Riley Esplin.

Valley took on region rival Panguitch in their final game of the week to determine fifth and seventh place. The first three quarters were tight with the Bobcats holding a slim three-point edge at the end of the third. Panguitch made the difference in the game at the charity stripe, hitting 26 of 30 free throws, to capture fifth place with a 53-42 win over the Buffaloes. Valley was led by Colby Spencer with nine points and Kobe Shatto with eight in their seventh place finish. Good job Valley! Congratulations to Colby Spencer for being named to the all-tournament team.

Layton Christian defeated Legacy Prep 54-25 to win the consolation side and take sixth place. Rich claimed third place with a 59-40 win over Monticello. 

The championship game proved to be a true battle of champions as both Duchesne and Bryce Valley gave everything they had through 32 minutes of regulation time, and two thrilling overtimes. It was Duchesne Coach Stan Young’s last game after coaching for 39 years. Bryce Valley dedicated the game to Coach Eric Jessen’s son, Jesse, who was killed at the age of 16 in a car accident this past August. It was an emotional victory for Bryce Valley, as they claimed the state title 68-59. 

I really like a comment Bryce Valley’s Coach Jessen made after the game. He said, “In basketball and other games, we have to declare a winner and a loser. With kids, each one who pushes forward is the winner.”