High school boys basketball: West Jordan avoids upset bug
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
WEST VALLEY CITY — Just prior to taking the floor Thursday night for a quarterfinal game against a team it beat by 35 points last December, West Jordan watched No. 1 American Fork walk off the Maverik Center court in a state of shock.
Most people assumed American Fork was a lock to advance to the 5A championship, but Brighton had other plans with the stunning quarterfinal upset.
West Jordan star Jordan Loveridge had a simple message for his teammates.
"I was telling my guys, 'not us, not today. It's not our turn to lose. It's not us. We're going to go out and play hard,'" said Loveridge.
West Jordan did exactly that, jumping all over Bingham in the first quarter on its way to a convincing 73-50 victory to advance to the 5A semifinals. The Jaguars will face Lone Peak at 5:30 p.m. on Friday.
West Jordan shot 52 percent, knocked down nine 3-pointers and dominated the boards with a 39-27 edge.
Future Ute Loveridge was a monster, going off for 25 points and 19 rebounds. He scored 18 of his points in the first half when the Jaguars crushed any Bingham hope of an upset.
When these teams met back in December, West Jordan broke open a close game at the half and rolled to a 35-point victory. The Jaguars knew Bingham would be out to avenge that loss.
"We just had to match their intensity. We knew they were going to come out for a little redemption from the last time we played them in December," said Jags' guard Jordan Pryor.
Between Pryor and Loveridge, they almost single-handily buried Bingham in the first half. They paced West Jordan to the 35-19 halftime lead by combining for 27 points and knocking down six 3-pointers — three each. Second-leading scorer Jaden Jackson didn't even score in the first half, but it didn't really matter.
With the dominant first half, West Jordan clearly wasn't leaving anything to chance.
"Anything can happen in the state tournament, everyone brings their best games," said Pryor, who added 18 points. "You've got to bring it, can't slip up. You have to respect every single team you play, no matter who it is."
West Jordan increased its 16-point halftime lead to 51-29 late in the third quarter as the Miners' shooting percent dipped to 30 percent. Out of nowhere, a couple of subs helped them claw back in the game.
Josh Sandquist and Justin Sanders each hit a pair of 3-pointers as Bingham whittled the lead to 53-42 with seven minutes remaining in the game.
"They're hard-nosed kids over there. And they're good players and good athletes. We knew coming in how that game was back in December, they were coming to redeem themselves," said West Jordan coach Scott Briggs.
The Jaguars never let the lead dip below 11 points the rest of the fourth quarter, ultimately outscoring Bingham 14-2 over the final 2:33.
Loveridge's double-double was his 17th of the season, a big reason West Jordan outscored Bingham 30-18 in the paint.
Despite being held scoreless in the first half, Jackson still finished with nine points and equaled a career-high with seven assists. Defensive specialist Seth Barrus had a quiet, yet impressive outing with eight points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Connor Williams led Bingham in the loss with 19 points, with Durrant Miles adding four points and nine rebounds.
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