RICHFIELD — When Green River's boys basketball team gets drawn into playing games at a frenetic, high-paced tempo, the Pirates usually struggle.
But when they keep it at their own pace and attack teams with their superior size, they can be awfully tough to beat.
Against West Ridge in the opening round of the 1A tournament, the Pirates played the game at their own pace and were subsequently awfully tough to beat.
Keeping the game played at a nice and slow tempo, Green River took apart the Eagles. Star center Jason Johnson poured in 32 points, brother Justin added 15 and the Pirates jumped on West Ridge early en route to a solid 55-46 win on Wednesday at the Sevier Valley Center.
"That was a scrappy team. They're a No. 1 seed, and I can see why they're a No. 1 seed," said Green River coach Tony White. "They deserved it, and it was fortunate that we had the size on them. Our bigs have been key all year long, and we've been able to go inside against people.
"And that's what we tried to do here."
Green River indeed tried to slow it down and then move the ball inside, and they were successful on both counts.
Leading 6-5 after a sluggish first quarter, Green River ripped open the game in the second quarter and never looked back.
The Pirates outscored West Ridge 25-11 in the decisive second period and did a nice job of weathering the Eagles' runs the rest of the evening.
Both Johnson brothers were key in helping the Pirates jump on West Ridge in the second quarter.
Jason Johnson scored 15 of his 32 points in the second, and Justin added six of his 15 in the period.
"They're the last of, I believe, seven brothers, and you can tell they know how to play basketball," said White. "Kade Mecham, my other big, has (also) done a really nice job for us. He's probably one of the best defensive players I've seen in high school."
Those three, working alongside their teammates, lifted Green River to its first opening-round playoff win since 2007.
"It is so cool," Jason Johnson said. "This is the first time in the few years that I've been playin' that we've won the first game. It is the coolest thing ever, I say."
Next up is a quarterfinal date with No. 2 Piute on Thursday at 5 p.m.
"Piute is the team to beat," said White. "They're gonna be really tough. I just hope we can come out and make it respectable."
Meanwhile, West Ridge will play in the consolation bracket Thursday. Will Gilbert led the Eagles against Green River with a team-high 25 points.
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