Ogden • The sea roared its terrible roar. The Weber student section rolled back and forth, bouncing screams and cheers and jeers around the Dee Events Center.
But it didn't faze R.J. Beard. Not one bit. The Alta senior rolled around screens and passed the ball off a few times while his Hawks were in the midst of their memorable fourth-quarter comeback against the Weber Warriors with the score tied and 44 seconds remaining Wednesday.
He eventually found the gap. He didn't have time to think about setting his feet. He didn't even think about making the shot.
He just shot it, like he has so many times during his career at Alta.
Then it went in.
"I felt like it was forever," said Beard, whose team-high 15 points came entirely from 3-point territory. "I was just holding my follow-through up there for at least 15 seconds it felt like."
It wasn't that long, but Beard's final 3-pointer of Wednesday's 49-43 Class 5A quarterfinal victory over Weber will be a moment the Hawks and the senior sharpshooter won't soon forget.
"What a big shot that was," Alta coach Jim Barker said.
The biggest of Beard's career. One that sent the Hawks into the Class 5A semifinals against American Fork on Friday.
While Beard's shot was the defining moment of the game, it was Alta's defense that allowed the Hawks to claw their way back into the thick of things. Alta trailed 38-32 heading into the fourth quarter, which is when the Hawks "locked down" on the Warriors, Barker explained afterward.
The energy and defensive fervor paid off. The Hawks outscored Weber 17-5 in the final quarter behind clutch 3-point shooting and free-throw shooting.
"We hit big shots," Barker said. "That's key."
Junior guard Zach Rollins spearheaded the comeback, scoring eight of Alta's 10 points between the third and fourth quarter. He credited teammate Trevor Hill for his defense on Weber star Hayden Schenck, who finished with a game-high 20 points, but Rollins still was in awe of the moment and the comeback his Hawks had staged.
He didn't even hear the sea roar as he stepped to the free-throw line to cement the improbable win.
"I think you hear them in the back of your mind," he said, "but you try not to focus on it. Just focus on the shot and knock it down."
He did just that.