ST. GEORGE — Owen Mackay did absolutely everything except win the game.

Snow Canyon’s Damon Ence collides with a Colt in a 4A boys state basketball playoff game, Orem, Utah, Feb. 27, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The senior scored 31 points but the rest of the Warriors had a cold night shooting and Cottonwood defeated Snow Canyon 48-45 in heart-breaking fashion to advance to the 4A boys state basketball championship game on Wednesday.

“This season I feel like we’ve kind of been put as an underdog, so it was motivating for us as team to be put in that role,” Mackay told St. George News after the game.

“It’s been so much fun playing with all these guys and building my relationships with all of them,” Mackay added. “It’s been a true blessing and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

The teams battled in a low scoring, defensive first half.

Mackay swished a 3-pointer on Snow Canyon’s first possession. Cottonwood rattled off the next three baskets, then Mackay tied the score 6-6 with a traditional 3-point play.

Mackay scored two more and Damon Ence sank a free throw, but the Colts hit a 3 at the end of the quarter to take a 12-9 lead into the second period.

Owen Iloa scored a tough hoop inside and Mackay scored eight more points in that second session, but Cottonwood took advantage of two 3-pointers by Tengis Bayasgalan and led 26-19 at halftime.

The Colts opened up a 36-24 lead with 4:00 to play in the third quarter. But Mackay scored, Owen Iloa battled hard for an inside score and Mackay stole the ball, ran the floor and scored to make it 36-30 going into the decisive fourth quarter.

Snow Canyon’s Owen Mackay dribbles against Cottonwood in a 4A boys state basketball playoff game, Orem, Utah, Feb. 27, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Cottonwood upped its lead to 46-38 with 1:21 left on the clock.

Trey Kelsch had a free throw and Mackay swished a deep 3-pointer that cut the lead to 46-42 with 30.2 seconds left in the game.

Then Mackay came up with a steal and assisted his brother Reggie Mackay’s 3-pointer to make it 46-45 with 14.1 seconds left.

Peter Oguama was fouled and he calmly sank two free throws for the Colts.

The Warriors had 13.1 seconds to get off a game-tying 3-point attempt, but they could not get a good look at the clock ran out on their season.

Mackay didn’t get a touch on the last play.

“It’s hard in those end situations to notice everything around you,” Mackay said. “It was just one of those moments where we couldn’t find it. But it is what it is.”

Cottonwood advanced to Wednesday’s 4A title game against Layton Christian Academy, which beat Green Canyon in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

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