SALT LAKE CITY — Viewmont came into Tuesday night’s game on the road at West High expecting to come out with a victory, but it didn’t know that it would come in such an interesting fashion.
For the majority of the game, West coach Mike Matheson only played his departing seniors — six players in all. Matheson played only five non-seniors on the night, all with under two minutes remaining in the game, as they totaled 10 minutes altogether.
“We could tell they were a little tired, but our defense kept the lead with our second half as we finished better and more steady,” Viewmont head coach Jeff Emery said after the Vikings' 57-36 victory. “It was a workmanlike win as we played together tonight.”
Viewmont’s largest lead of the game came with a minute left in regulation as the Vikes were up 25 points, 55-30.
The Vikings' defense was spectacular all night as Viewmont held the Panthers (3-7, 5-17) to 22.5 percent shooting from the field, and allowed only nine total field goals (9 of 40).
“We just wanted to blind their strong side, which is driving, and we picked up our man defense,” said Vikings guard Jarom Tye, who finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. “We got better tonight. Our offense fed off our defense.”
The Vikings (6-4, 12-10) got going from the get-go as they had a 16-4 run in the first quarter.
However, the Panthers came back, starting out in the second quarter with a 7-0 run of their own to cut into the Vikings' lead at 16-11 halfway through the period. Viewmont ended the half with an 8-4 run to lead at halftime 24-15.
Viewmont was the aggressor all night as it tried to get easy buckets and finished with 30 paint points. It also pounded the boards hard as the Vikes gained 20 more rebounds than West, 47 in total in the workmanlike effort. All those rebounds led to 19 second-chance points for the Vikings in their overall hard-working effort.
The Vikings' bench came up huge on the night, getting 25 points, led by Porter May’s seven points and four rebounds. Michael Steinicke was a big leader off the bench as well with five points and six rebounds.
Viewmont really took over the game when it came out for the second half as it started the third with a 15-6 run to lead 39-21 five minutes in.
Viewmont played hard all game and the effort showed through as McKay Johnson led with a team-high 12 points. Forward McKay Richins was one of the Vikings' rocks down low as he finished with eight points and eight rebounds.
One of the Panthers' few highlights on the night was senior Holani Olive’s game as he led his team with 18 points and five rebounds.
The Vikings' overall team effort was a huge boost in confidence as they head into the state tournament on a two-game winning streak.
“We end the season on a win, which helps our confidence as we get ready for a new season,” Emery said.
Tye concurred with his coach.
“This win didn’t affect our positioning, but it did affect our confidence," he said.