Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
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WEST VALLEY — Brighton versus Weber was supposed to be one of the more competitive first-round games in the 5A boys state tournament. But due to a quick start by the Bengals and an injury to Weber's leading scorer Hayden Schneck, the Bengals cruised to an easy 62-45 win on Tuesday.
With the 3:29 remaining in the first half, Schneck drove hard to the basket and went down with an apparent knee injury. He attempted to come back in the second half, but was unable to play effectively after just one possession and sat out the rest of the game.
While Schneck's absence was devastating to the Warriors, it's difficult to say if he would have changed the outcome had he played. While he was in the game, Brighton managed a 26-13 lead and was hitting on all cylinders with junior guard Brandon Miller leading the way.
"We came out firing and confident," said Miller. "They say that you have to get used to this arena with the backdrops not being there and what not, but I think if you're a real shooter that it shouldn't affect you."
Miller proved to be a "real shooter" throughout the game, scoring 24 points and hitting four 3-pointers, doing most of his damage from the perimeter. Most of his work was done in the first half , scoring 19 points while Brighton built a 30-14 lead.
Defense also played a key role and Miller was quick to credit his teammates for that effort.
"We played great on the defensive end and I thought everyone stepped up, and we're playing great as a team right now – we're confident," he said.
In most people's minds, there are only three teams that have a legitimate shot at the 5A title – West Jordan, Lone Peak and American Fork. With an impressive win in the first round and a competitive resume against two of those three top teams, Brighton feels as if it can play with anyone and take the 5A championship.
The Bengals have already managed one regular-season win against pre-tournament favorite West Jordan and showed very competitive in their second matchup, losing 66-60. Against American Fork – their likely opponent in the quarterfinals – they battled them until the final buzzer before losing 73-68 early in the season.
Miller feels as if his team is peaking at the right time and could very well come out on top against any of the so-called "Big Three" in the 5A ranks.
"We're playing better right now than we have all year; we're definitely peaking at the right time." He said. "There's not a team in this state that we don't feel we can play with. All three of those teams are great teams and it will take our best effort, but we know that we can play with anyone."
Along with Miller's game high 24 points, Travis Devasharayee added 15 while leading the team in rebounds with eight.
Weber was led by Garret Becky's nine points.
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