COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Brighton High's boys basketball team learned a valuable lesson in a loss to Riverton earlier this week: Regardless of talent, it needs to compete to be successful.
"We weren't really playing as a team; everyone was trying to do it themselves," said Brighton big man Austin Hudson. "In practice during the week, we just said we have to come together."
Against visiting Bingham on Friday night, the Bengals did that and competed for four quarters.
Even when shots weren't going down — which they weren't for long stretches — the Bengals competed on both ends of the court. That put them in great position to pull away for the 63-61 victory when the shots finally started dropping.
"We didn't compete the other night. Riverton's a good team, but we didn't compete," said Brighton coach Lyndon Johnson. "If we compete, we have a chance to be a good team; if we don't, we'll just be mediocre."
Brighton improved to 4-1 with the victory and snapped Bingham's five-game winning streak in the process. It was all about execution down the stretch.
Trailing 49-48 with 2:59 remaining, Brighton scored on four straight possessions to open up a 59-53 lead.
The decisive moment occurred 10 seconds earlier. With the teams trading buckets throughout the quarter, Bingham's Connor Williams found teammate Sean Larsen on a wraparound pass in the paint. Instead of going straight up for the easy layup, Larsen took a dribble, which gave the defense enough time to recover and foul him.
He missed both free throws, and 10 seconds later Brighton's Brandon Miller made a driving layup while getting fouled to extend the lead to 51-49. After a Bingham miss, Hudson converted a three-point play of his own, increasing the lead to 54-49.
Hudson finished with 18 points despite being in foul trouble during the first half.
"He finally stayed on the floor," said Johnson. "He's the least effective post player in America if he sits by me."
Brighton extended its lead to 61-53 before Bingham closed with an 8-2 run in the waning seconds, which included Jordan Phouthavong's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Bengals shot 54 percent in the fourth quarter and only turned it over once, an impressive turnaround after shooting 31 percent and coughing it up 13 times in the first three quarters.2 comments on this story
"We made some shots finally. They did a good job changing defenses on us, and we finally found some things we could be effective with," said Johnson.
The momentum began to swing late in the third quarter with Bingham leading 40-33. Back-to-back steals by Masina and Hudson enabled the Bengals to close the quarter with a 7-0 run to level the score at 40-40.
The turnovers were among 18 committed by Bingham against Brighton's frantic defense. Logan Parker led the Miners with 20 points, while Phouthavong chipped in with 17.