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High school boys basketball: Rich gets past Green River

By David Anderson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 1 2012 11:39 p.m. MST

RICHFIELD — It would have surprised Rich coach Ashley Brown had the 1A boys' basketball quarterfinals game against Green River not been tough.

As it was, the Pirates closed within five points of Rich's Rebels in the final period. Rich's boys were able to break up the Green River run and put the game away 62-49 at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield Thursday night.

"They're a great team," Brown said. "It's what we expected."

Brown said his team worked together in the final period, making some key stops to shift the momentum back in Rich's favor before the Rebels lost their lead.

One of the toughest hurdles in the win was overcoming Green River's Justin Johnson, who led all scoring players with 29 points. Johnson hit three 3-pointers, and made 12 of 14 free throws, and used his 6-foot-6 frame to gather up a total of 19 rebounds.

"We knew Johnson could hit the three," said Braken Pinter, Rich's leading scorer, with 18 points. "They were going to make a run at us … we just had to weather the storm."

The game was the first meeting of the two teams this season.

It started with Pinter drawing a foul early in the first period and hitting two shots from the charity strip. Green River's Marshall Spencer laid one in off a cross-court pass from Johnson, who followed up with one of his own.

Johnson kept the Pirates' pace brisk through the first quarter, hitting two more shots.

McKay Jarman and Briton Brown both banged into the paint for points in the first quarter to give Rich the lead.

Green River snatched the lead back early in the second period, going up 17-16, but Rich's Austin Groll hit a pair of free throws to swing the advantage back to Rich's side of the scoreboard.

Johnson hit an inside jumper, followed by a pair of shots from the free throw line to give Green River a 3-point edge.

Rich retaliated with a 3-pointer from Groll, which ignited a 14-point jaunt for the Rebels.

Johnson broke up the run with a 3-pointer, but the damage was done, as Green River never regained the lead. Rich took a 34-26 edge into the locker room during the halftime break.

The Rebels returned to the court with a three-point play converted by Pinter. Green River's Jordan Olsen hit a trey in response, followed by points from teammates Johnson and T.J. Hughes.

Briton Brown hit another shot for the Rebels, giving them a 47-35 advantage heading into the final period.

The Pirates stormed back onto the court with a 7-point run, fueled by points from Adrian Escalante and Johnson. The run closed the gap to 47-42, giving Green River a chance to get the lead back with just under seven minutes to go.

Rich maintained the margin through most of the fourth period before going on a 10-point streak that settled the outcome of the game.

In addition to Pinter, Groll helped led Green River with 13 points. Brent Wallentine added 11 to the Pirate's total.

Rich is now set to take on Layton Christian in a semifinal game Friday at 6 p.m.

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