Bountiful holds off Orem to win 4A championship

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - After coming close for so many years, Bountiful finally has another boys basketball state title.

Sam Merrill scored 23 points, while Dalton Nixon missed two free throws with two seconds left as the Braves held on for a thrilling 44-43 victory over Orem.

"I thought there was no way he was going to miss those," said Merrill. "I've played with Dalton and it's tough for him. But it's fortunate for us that he missed those."

Quin Peters gave Orem a 43-42 lead with 50 seconds left on a steal and a layup. But Merrill came right back down the floor and hit a bank shot with 30 seconds left to give the lead back to the Braves.

"We played our hearts out," said Zac Seljaas, who scored 8 points. "Sam led us the whole way and led us to this win."

Bountiful closes the season with 22 straight victories and finishes with a record of 26-1. It's the Braves first state title since 1997.

Nixon wasn't the only Tiger to struggle from the free throw line. Orem made just 3 of 11 from the charity stripe.

"Maybe we could have opened it up somewhere," said Bountiful head coach Mike Maxwell. "We couldn't, they couldn't, they made plays, we made plays. I don't even remember what happened at the end. Somehow, we got a rebound and a win."

Cooper Holt and Quin Peters each scored 10 points for the Tigers, who were heavy underdogs coming into the game.

Jordan Bleak led the strong defensive effort for the Braves, recording six steals.

"That's how you love to win championships, with defense," Maxwell said.

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