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Sandy pulls away in the fourth quarter

The Pioneers go on a 19-5 run in the final period to avoid elimination

After opening the game a little sluggish, Sandy made up for it in the fourth quarter.

The Pioneers outscored Bend 26-10 in the final period of their 5A qualifying contest to runaway with a 66-47 victory over the Lava Bears on Tuesday night to gain a spot in the 16-team 5A playoffs.

"Our thought coming into this game was to be in attack mode. Bend is fairly young, and with our depth, we knew we could wear them out over the course of the game," Sandy head coach Jason Maki said. "When we made that run, (Bend) got really tired and we had guys come in to make great defensive plays, which ended up giving an offense a spark."

Jadon Floyd led a balanced scoring attack for Sandy with 13 points while Gabe Poulin came off the bench to chip in with 11 points. Mason Gorski and Matt Stevens added 10 points apiece.

"We are a senior-led team and we don't want this thing to end," Poulin said. "We knew we weren't playing the best that we could, so we came out with everything we had in the second half."

The Pioneers started the game ice cold from the field, missing their first seven shots. Gorski was finally able to get Sandy on the board with a corner trey and a tough layup. Gorski went on to get another hoop in transition, but Bend was able to tie the game at 10 to end the quarter.

"We were definitely a little jacked up to begin the game," Maki said. "We shot way too many threes."

Bend continued to stick right with the Pioneers in the second period. Sandy got treys from Stevens and Colton Gorski, as well as a pair of hoops from Kansala, but the Pioneers only clung to a 24-22 lead at half.

"There were some jitters. We played a little anxious because we knew what was on the line," Poulin said. "By the end, we settled down and did what we had to do."

Despite Sandy's poor shooting from the outside, the Pioneers started to hit the offensive glass hard in the third quarter. Poulin got back-to-back hoops on offensive boards and Ammon Brown got involved in the action as well, scoring at the rim after corralling a long rebound.

"This team does a lot of things well, so when we have a bad shooting night, we are still able keep things going," Mason Gorski said.

The Pioneers took a 40-37 lead to the fourth period after a 3-pointer by Poulin. However, Kansala had to go the pine late in the quarter after committing two offensive fouls late in the period, giving him four total.

Mason Gorski also went to the bench after picking up his third foul, which was when it became clear that the second unit would have to step up for Sandy. And like they have dome for much of the season, they rose to the occasion.

Brown and Fisher came off the bench to both scored on offensive rebounds. Moments later, Stevens came in to hit consecutive triples and Floyd also had a pair of hoops. When Bend tried to press Sandy full-court, Poulin ran by the entire defense for an easy layup. It ended up being a 22-5 run for Sandy, putting the Pioneers up 59-42 with just over four minutes remaining.

"When Grayson picked up his fourth, we went with two bigs in Ammon and Wyatt to pound the glass, and they did a great job there," Maki said. "We a very versatile team with a bunch of different ways we can play...We want our bench to raise the level of the game with their energy and our guys did that when it mattered most."

View photos from the qualifier round and the playoff game at daveball.exposuremanager.com.