Cyprus Quentin Meza’s 3-pointer at the buzzer claims rollicking region victoryFeb 18, 2021 11:50PM ● By Travis Barton
Cyprus sophomore Quentin Meza finished with 12 points in the win over West Jordan, none more important than the three at the buzzer giving his program its first win over West Jordan since before he was born. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
They were the two hottest teams coming into the regular season finale. West Jordan taking its five-game winning streak against Cyprus, enjoying a four-game streak of its own, in a region showdown.
It did not disappoint. In fact, it was one of those times where it exceeded the hype.
Trailing 44-43, Cyprus sophomore Quentin Meza nailed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer to send his team and fans into a frenzy.
“It's just the best feeling you can have to be honest, there's nothing better,” Meza said shortly after the 46-44 win.
It was a situation the Pirates perhaps didn’t expect to find themselves in after holding a nine-point lead with a little over two minutes to go.
West Jordan had gone ice cold in the second half only hitting three field goals, scoring only nine points to find itself down 43-34, when the Jaguars suddenly came to life with two free throws and some key defensive stops followed by back-to-back threes from Boston Farmer and Logan Prince.
Then, after trailing for most of the second half, senior Grady Gilbert faked a defender before scoring a baseline jumper to give the Jaguars the lead and a 10-0 run, setting the stage for Meza’s heroics.
For a young team like Cyprus—the starting lineup features a freshman, three sophomores and a junior—the momentum swing could have been catastrophic.
“As a coaching staff, we were very composed,” said Cyprus head coach Tre Smith about that 10-0 run. “I could have lost it a little bit, but we have a very young team, so you’re calling timeouts saying ‘hey guys we’re good, we’ll get it back.’”
Meza said he just kept thinking they needed to stick together as a team and not lose their cool.
He sure didn’t.
Coming off the inbound with nine seconds left, Meza said he was supposed to come off the screen, thinking the Jaguars would double. When the defender didn’t double, taking away the passing lane instead, Meza scanned the court looking for another option. Not finding anything, he stepped back and “let it go.”
“Once it was in the air, I knew it was in,” he said.
The game-winner gave Cyprus its first victory over West Jordan since Coach Smith arrived at the program seven years ago. In fact, it was Cyprus' first victory over the Jaguars this century.
“They have a great program, (West Jordan head) coach (Mason) Sawyer does a hell of a job, he's a hell of a coach, these kids here they're a gritty bunch man,” Smith said of the Jaguars. “But my kids made one more big play tonight, it could've gone either way.”
The game was a back and forth affair. With Cyprus starting strong before junior MJ Tia went out with foul trouble. While the Pirates jumped out to an early lead, the Jaguars stormed back with a 16-0 run, giving them the halftime lead 25-22.
“We needed to buckle down on the defensive end,” Smith said of the halftime adjustments. “With the young group that I have, when they’re making shots then they want to play defense. That was something we talked about heavily but the kids, they dug in.”
Cyprus came out firing in the third quarter, locking down on the defensive end holding West Jordan to six points while scoring 16 of their own. That included an alley-oop dunk for sophomore Justus Jackson-Fobbs who finished with a game-high 18 points.
“We played hard, played together and figured out what we needed to do to win and I feel like we stuck to that,” Meza said of the second-half surge. “It's a great team win, just a great win to go into playoffs (with).”
The victory capped a sixth victory in seven games for the Pirates after losing its first three games in region. The slow start may have cost them a shot at the region title, but the turnaround is impressive considering they play in what Smith describes as the second toughest region top to bottom.
“Obviously you got Region 4 with their heavy hitters up there, but top to bottom, our league is anyone can beat anyone else on any given night,” he said.
It means beating West Jordan for the first time since any player on the team was born.
“That’s something I think about a lot,” Meza said. “I want to try and change the culture at Cyprus. Us as a team I think we can do that, we have a lot of young guys that have a lot of talent. I feel like that's what we can do, we can beat teams we've never beaten before.”
Meza and company could have another chance to do that Tuesday in the first round of the playoffs. The last time Cyprus won a playoff game was 2004.
Smith has steered his team to the playoffs the last three years only to be knocked out in the first round. But with a home playoff game looming Tuesday, this could be the year for the young, but talented Pirates.
“We’ve got a lot of growing to do,” Smith said. “A lot of maturing, a lot of toughness building mentally and physically. But coming here and winning a game like this gives us great momentum heading into the playoffs…We’re ready for that challenge and we just got to make the most of it.”